I got a few requests for a sequel, an addition, a whatever you wanna call it, to my last NCIS/Stark Trek: 2009 crossover. So, eh, here it is!
It had been six months since NCIS Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo had been "kidnapped" by unknown assailants. At least, that's what the team had told the Director. After all, Kirk said he would return to tell them the truth. So they knew they needed to leave the door open for that.
The fact that the man had disappeared in a swirl of light, effectively breaking every physics rule McGee could rattle off, hadn't bothered Gibbs too much.
After all, he'd always told Tony he was special.
Not that he had much time to worry about it at the moment. Not with ten masked terrorists pointing assault rifles at them and a bleeding hole in his chest that was becoming suspiciously numb.
Beside Gibbs, McGee and Ziva were handcuffed in a similar fashion as him, though Ziva had already pulled her arms in front to help keep pressure on the wound. Meanwhile, the terrorists weren't paying that much attention to them.
And not for the first time since his second in command had vanished into thin air, Gibbs wished for him back.
Well, you know what they say about wishes. Be careful with 'em.
So when all hell broke loose, Gibbs didn't know whether to laugh or cry.
Suddenly bright white lights lit up the interior of the warehouse, and then there was shouting and darts of streaming energy flying around. Bullets ricocheted for a minute, then all was calm.
"Bones! They're over here!"
That damned familiar voice is what penetrated the fog that had enveloped Gibbs' mind. With all the energy he could muster, he opened his eyes.
Scuffling around him and his team was a group of people headed by one very special Captain James T. Kirk.
Gibbs glanced over his surrogate son with sluggish eyes, pleased to note the other man seemed healthy and unharmed. He was vaguely aware of three men in red shirts working on McGee and Ziva, removing their handcuffs.
Two blue clad men were kneeling by him, one with a scowl on his face and another with – Dammit, I've GOT to get some glasses, Gibbs thought – pointed ears and a curious expression.
And Jim was hovering much like he always used to hover when someone was hurt, but this time, he had an air of command over him.
"Bones, how bad is he?" he asked quickly, eyeing the stunned terrorists behind them.
The angry man holding a beeping, blinking, shrieking tool over his chest huffed and snapped, "He's got a hole in his chest, Jim, and he's leaking blood all over the floor. I'm pretty sure he's seen better days."
The pointy-eared man calmly stated, "Doctor, I believe the Captain wishes for an estimation of his chances of survival with the medical assistance you can offer."
Gibbs fought back a cough and tried to catch Jim's eyes without success. The other man was purposely avoiding his gaze. Instead, he was suddenly barking orders to the red shirts, then speaking crisply into the wave-shaped communicator on his shirt, then assisting the red shirts with tying up the bad guys.
"Bones, we don't have time. Get him stable and check out Ziva and McGee," he snapped, an unhealthy amount of anger clouding his words.
Freed from his constraints, McGee rubbed his wrists and finally spoke.
"We're fine. Tony? I mean, Jim, what's going on? Why are you here, now, and what's the rush? I thought you –"
Jim cut him off quickly while harshly tying off one last terrorist.
"No time to get into the physics of it, McGee. What we were worried about happened; with the Romulans back here in time, me following them around for four years. It changed the course of history. Now we're having to go back in time and fix it."
Ziva glanced at Gibbs, who was watching everything with lidded eyes, then stated plainly, "We were supposed to die today, no?"
Jim slowed at this, and his eyes drifted to Gibbs for a moment before he wrenched his gaze around to meet her questioning glance.
"Yes. You were all supposed to die. If I hadn't been back here in this timeline, you would have had a fourth agent, an Agent Landau, who would have not been captured and called for backup and gotten you all out unharmed. Because of those damned Romulans, because of my timeshifting, all that got screwed up. And it's pretty important that we fix it."
The tightness in Jim's words was all too telling.
Gibbs swallowed hard as the doctor in front of him muttered something about a dermal mender, and made his voice as strong as possible as he asked, "Whatever got screwed up, whatever the future ramifications are…they're bad, aren't they?"
For this first time, Jim finally met his eyes. And the pain, guilt, and self-loathing in his gaze would've taken Gibbs breath away, had he any to spare.
But the other man didn't say anything, just shifted his attention to the three red shirts gathered behind him.
"Jim, he's stable. I mended enough of it to make it a non-lethal wound," McCoy stated as he stood.
"Good. Prepare to beam up."
Then the other blue shirt, the calm and logical one, stated, "Agents Gibbs, David, McGee, you know you cannot speak what you have learned to a single soul. The future implications of your actions could be disastrous if you do."
Gibbs pushed himself up on his elbows a bit, relieved to find the pain was marginal compared to before, and nodded. He managed to get Jim's attention for a moment and held his eyes, giving the other man as much comfort as he could through his gaze.
"Are we going to see you again?"
Jim paused for a moment, and the hardness in his visage tempered a bit as his away team gathered around him.
"You might, Jethro."
Gibbs nodded wordlessly, and Jim brushed his communicator.
"Mister Scott, six to beam up."
Then, in a swirling display of lights, they were gone just as quickly as they had come.
There was silence for a moment before McGee realized Gibbs was glaring at him.
"Er, an ambulance. Right, boss."
A couple months later, Gibbs and his team were called Abby's apartment in the middle of the night. To say the young Goth sounded anything but terrified would've been a lie. She rattled off something about bright white lights, ray guns, and disappearing tattooed bad guys.
And Gibbs felt his gut tighten.
When they'd arrived at two in the morning, police all around and neighbors in pink bunny slippers gathering curiously on the lawn, Gibbs' only thought was if Jim would still be there.
He wasn't, though. And Gibbs wasn't too surprised at that.
Abby, dressed in skull and bones pajamas and hugging a stuffed water buffalo that belched when squeezed (Gibbs decided to one day find out just what company made those God-awful toys), met them at the front door, mascara clogging her eyelashes.
"Gibbs, it was so scary! These three tattooed men came into my apartment and started asking me all these questions! Well, at least, I think they were questions. They weren't speaking English. I have no idea what they were saying. But they were so angry, Gibbs! And then they pulled out a sword – they were just carrying it around! Who carries a sword in this day and age? – and they were about to kill me! But then there were a bunch of white lights and people shouting and ray guns firing – yes, ray guns, Gibbs. I'm not crazy. Something hit me and I kinda passed out and I swear I saw Tony! But then when I came to everyone was gone, the bad guys too. And I found this on my coffee table."
Taking a deep breath (Gibbs was surprised she made it through the whole speech without inhaling once), Abby handed Gibbs the item she'd found.
There were three familiar wave-shaped buttons, and they were folded into a piece of paper scrawled with a note.
Might need help sometime. Keep these on you. Always be armed. And Probie, stop sleeping in the nude. Don't need that visual. – J.K.
Gibbs swallowed and handed the note and buttons around to his team. Pinning the button to his lapel, the older agent swallowed a bit of bile that crawled up his throat.
For the first time, Gibbs fervently hoped to never see the future Jim Kirk lived in. It was all of a sudden far too terrifying.
About five weeks after that, Gibbs woke up at about one in the morning and swore he heard footsteps in his living room.
A quick and careful tour of the house, Sig drawn, turned up nothing. Uneasy, he worked on his boat for the rest of the morning until it was time to head in.
That's when he found his front door locked, all three deadbolts thrown against the catches.
He never locked his door. Ever.
It worried and confused him. He didn't understand until later.
His neighbors, an elderly couple, had been slain in their beds, the wife raped as she died, the husband sodomized and his genitals cut off. Their belongings were pilfered, their valuables stolen. Their toy poodle had been killed and dressed like a deer, then hung from its back legs on a slowly turning ceiling fan blade.
An FBI task force, created because of the shocking brutality of the crime, caught the perps a few days later. Two teenagers; a sadistic, psychopathic Bonnie and Clyde. High on every drug they could get their hands on, they had broken into the first house that was unlocked.
They had tried Gibbs' door. It had been locked.
For the first time since Kelly and Shannon had died, the door had been locked.
Gibbs threw up for an hour straight.
Then he thanked God for Jim Kirk.
Tim McGee was killed in a fatal car accident.
The railroad crossing signs had shorted out that morning, and the track was on a blind curve hidden by a grown up fence, weeds and kudzu hiding it from view.
So Gibbs and Ziva drove silently to the track, their hearts in their throats, and arrived at the crossing far too soon for their liking.
Only to see McGee talking animatedly with a local LEO.
Gibbs' jaw dropped – he couldn't deny it if he tried – and he hurried out of the car, Ziva on his tail.
"Yeah, my car was just kind of rolling forward slowly. Reminds me of what happened with all those Toyota Prius cars, except it just, you know, rolled, instead of accelerated. Going that slow I could feel the vibration of the train coming and I saw that the crossing lights weren't on. So I just jumped out and about five seconds later, the car rolled into the crossing and the train plowed into it," McGee finished up, rubbing the back of his head sheepishly.
The officer taking his statement nodded and said, "You're lucky for that, Agent McGee. Maybe the dry lightning had something to do with it, screwed up your car's computer. I've never heard of that happening, but you never know. One of these days, technology might just kill us."
McGee nodded and muttered, "Yeah, tell me about it."
The officer walked back towards his cruiser and Gibbs grabbed Tim's shoulder, squeezing it, assuring himself his young agent was still alive. McGee just shot Gibbs a wry grin and exhaled deeply.
"Dry lightning, McGee?"
The other agent glanced at Ziva, her question obvious, and he gestured towards the communicator on his lapel.
"Jim says hi."
This time, Gibbs knew he heard footsteps in his house. And this time, he knew his door was already locked.
So he padded carefully through the house, his socked feet making his steps silent, and he peered around the doorjamb into his kitchen.
Two men in blue shirts and black pants were sitting calmly at the kitchen table, staring right back at him.
Gibbs frowned minutely, recognizing the two men, and squashed his disappointment at Jim's absence.
Without missing a beat, the agent walked into the kitchen and pulled down his bag of coffee, starting a pot as he asked, "Coffee? I usually offer it to guests that simply beam into my home at eleven o'clock at night."
There was no anger in his voice, only soft incredulousness at the situation.
His back turned, he didn't see the eye roll one gave him and the raised eyebrow another offered.
"Thank you, Agent Gibbs. I would enjoy a cup immensely."
The other man scoffed and muttered, "Sure, thanks."
Gibbs finished prepping the percolator and turned around, crossing his arms. He inclined his head and the others took the cue.
"I'm Dr. Leonard McCoy, or Bones, as our fearless Captain calls me. I'm the CMO on the USS Enterprise."
"I am Spock, science and first officer on the USS Enterprise. We both serve alongside Captain Jim Kirk."
Gibbs mildly asked, "The ears?"
Spock levied what was possibly a humorous look at the man and answered, "I am Vulcan, a member of the species from the planet Vulcan."
Gibbs nodded, as though that explained everything. "Ah. So…not that it's unusual for me to be hosting spaceship officers from the future at eleven at night, but what can I do for you?"
McCoy leaned forward and said, "Jim sent us back to ask you about a terrorist, one that may have dire effects on the future. If Jim hadn't been here, the terrorist wouldn't exist at this point, because Jim has a softer heart than the man who would've been your fourth agent. Landau was supposed to shoot him. In the same position, Jim spared his life, took him to the authorities, and he was incarcerated. He escaped a few months ago from a prison called Guantanamo Bay."
Yet again, Gibbs found his jaw dropped at something related to time travel.
"What? No, that's not possible. We haven't heard of any breakouts from Gitmo. There'd be a federal alert if something like that happened."
Spock calmly added, "This man's escape was engineered by Romulans from our time. They successfully replaced the terrorist with a mind-blanked clone, created with technology as forbidden as time travel. There would not have been an alert to the effect of the man's escape."
And once again, Gibbs cursed the tattooed bastards that were thoroughly screwing up his timeline.
"Look, I don't know what I can tell you. And where is Tony, anyway?" Gibbs asked, barely disguising the hopeful tone that leaked into his voice.
At their Captain's alias, though, the two officers exchanged worried glances, and Spock finally, cautiously said, "The Captain is unavailable right now."
Gibbs swore softly; he knew all too well what that meant.
"The terrorist's name is Abdallah Salih al-Ajmi. He is a Kuwati national," Spock informed stoically.
The agent frowned slightly, the name ringing bells, and he thought hard as he poured three cups of coffee and passed them around, mindlessly dropping a box of sugar and non-dairy creamer on the table. Hiding a pensive look as he drew on his mug, Gibbs sat heavily in the chair between the two officers.
Finally sitting his coffee cup on the table, Gibbs quietly stated, "al-Ajmi is scheduled for release from Gitmo next week. He's been there for three and a half years."
Bones took a sip of his coffee and grimaced openly before dumping a liberal amount of the offered condiments into his cup.
"You have any idea where he's planning on going after he's released? His mom's house, old high school reunion, anything?" the doctor asked, sighing in satisfaction as the sweetened brew hit his tongue.
"Do I look like I'm his confidant? The only reason that guy is even familiar is because he's being released amid a lot of protests; people on both sides of the fence are interested in this guy's release for opposite reasons. The feds are concerned he'll either become political and grow a movement somewhere, maybe in his home country, or he'll disappear and the next time we see him will be torn apart in a suicide bombing."
Spock exchanged an unreadable look with McCoy before drinking his coffee. Gibbs caught the look and fought rolling his eyes; this future stuff was slightly annoying, especially this late at night.
"Look, why does it matter where he goes after his release? You said he's a clone, right? He's not the one you're after," Gibbs pointed out.
Spock nodded and replied, "Indeed, Agent Gibbs. However, in this case it is more likely the clone will rendezvous with its source and the Romulans in order to present whatever information it has managed to gather during its time in the incarceration facility. It will be far easier to track the clone to this meeting point than to find its source on our own."
Gibbs nodded, once again pretending the explanation was as usual and run-of-the-mill as he'd ever heard, and said, "I've got some favors I could call in. The CIA generally keeps tabs on the Gitmo prisoners after their release. We might be able to track him or something."
At McCoy's slightly hopeful face, something that Gibbs instinctively knew wasn't a usual and customary visage, the older man decided he couldn't pretend anymore.
"Tony's hurt, isn't he? And al-Ajmi's grandchildren are somehow responsible, aren't they?"
The softness of the agent's voice was likewise a foreign aspect in the grand scheme of his personality, and it was the blatant concern and slightly concealed terror that caused McCoy to break a rule.
Leaning back in his chair, his fingers intertwined together and placed firmly on the table, McCoy responded quietly, "Jim was given an ultimatum after a run-in with ten Romulan warbirds: surrender himself or the Enterprise was going to be destroyed. The stupid idiot has never thought twice when it comes to the safety and welfare of his crew and his ship, so he gave himself up without a thought. That was three weeks ago. We haven't managed to find him yet."
Spock spared a brief glance at McCoy, his irritation at a broken rule fading slightly when he saw the genuine anguish on the doctor's face as he discussed the fate of his best friend.
The Vulcan cleared his throat almost subconsciously, imitating his absent Captain, and added, "We managed to trace the alteration in the timeline that led to that conflict and picked up the signatures of a Romulan team in this time period. Our computer determined the goal of the Romulans by analyzing the ripples in the time stream. It would appear the terrorist is something of a physics genius, and may actually have some theories that the Romulans can apply to their technology to gain the upper hand in our time. As for the issue at hand, since we could not locate Captain Kirk in our timeline, we thought he may have been brought back to this timeline to avoid detection from our scanners."
At this, Gibbs surged to his feet, undisguised fury reddening his face.
"You think Tony's here in the hands of Romulans and you just NOW decided to tell me? What the hell is wrong with you?" he roared, hand already sneaking towards his cell phone.
Spock raised a single unconcerned eyebrow and stated plainly, "We are currently under Starfleet orders to refrain from speaking of the future with any people in this timeline."
"Rule number one: NEVER screw over your partner," Gibbs snapped, fingers dialing a number from memory.
He listened intently towards the other end of the phone, already turning back to his room to get dressed, and spoke immediately when the ringing gave way to silence.
"Tobias, we have a lead on Tony's location. I need to call in that favor. Yes, THAT favor. Now. No, five minutes ago."
The next twelve hours were a blur to Gibbs. After alerting the team, McGee had taken the chore of finding acceptable clothing for their guests, even going so far as to find an acceptable hat that covered Spock's ears. Ziva had trucked them around the entirety of Northern Virginia, a tracking device held by Spock constantly searching for Jim's bio readouts.
And Gibbs was managing his called in-favor in MTAC, all along seeing Jim in his mind.
So it was al-Ajmi was released that day, a subdermal tracker imbedded during routine exit vaccinations, and all the considerable resources of the CIA piped into the secured access room where Gibbs waited.
When the tracker stopped moving somewhere in Fort Dodge, Iowa, Gibbs had already requisitioned a jet.
They arrived at the last known GPS coordinates of the clone three and a half hours after the tracker had stopped. Gibbs, Ziva, and McGee were part of the first wave in, with a disguised McCoy and Spock beside them in riot gear. They swept the warehouse, bottom to top, and it was the third floor that found them a firefight.
Green blood soon splattered the floors; dead, tattooed corpses dropped to the ground like flies. Twin olive-skinned men joined them immediately after, al-Ajmi and his clone joining the list of the deceased.
Then they found him.
"Dammit, DiNozzo," Gibbs whispered, momentarily frozen as he caught sight of the man.
The Starfleet Captain was hanging from the rafters, hands and wrists chained above his head, his body swinging in some unfelt breeze. His shirt was gone, his pants soaked with blood, and his head was dropped to his chest. What was left of his face was best described as hamburger. Various areas of his chest, which was mottled with bruises of all ages, were slightly sunken, indicating severe damage to his ribs. Twin trails of blood ran slowly but steadily from where all of his body weight had rested too long on his chained wrists. His body rotated slowly on the chain as the invisible wind played around him, and the entire group gasped in fear as they saw the harsh whip marks and laser burns across his back and sides.
"Ziva, give me your lock picking kit. McGee, help Ziva get him down. I'll get the chains off him when he's on the ground," Gibbs ordered, snapping from his trance.
The team worked like clockwork as McCoy and Spock removed their hastily donned riot gear. Gibbs paid them no mind, though, as he gently caught Jim in his arms as Ziva and McGee lowered him down. The groan that escaped from the man's chapped lips as his abused back touched the cold concrete floor brought tears of relief to the older agent's eyes.
"DiNozzo? It's Gibbs. Can you hear me?" Gibbs asked softly as he carefully unlocked the shackles binding the man's hands.
The younger man shifted once, grimaced, and finally opened his eyes, the bright but slightly cloudy green giving Gibbs both hope and worry.
"Dad?" he asked thickly, his voice echoing with pain and desperation.
Gibbs felt his heart thump mercilessly in his chest as he rested his hand on Jim's forehead, brushing away his sweaty and blood-caked bangs.
"Just rest, son. I've got you."
Jim smiled slightly at this, his cracked lips spilling a bit of blood as he did, and he murmured, "Knew you'd find me."
Gibbs swallowed his own emotions as he saw McCoy speak into his communicator, the doctor gesturing to Gibbs that they had to get Jim to the Enterprise, now.
"I'll always find you, Tony. Always."
Then he gave one more smile, putting as much peace and reassurance into his eyes as he could, and stepped back as the three men disappeared in a benevolent maelstrom of light.
If the rest of his team noticed the silent tears that fell down his face, they didn't mention it.
They say your life flashes before your eyes when you're about to die, and that's there's always a white light at the end of the tunnel once you cross that threshold.
Yes, his life was flashing before his eyes. But the light at the end of this particular tunnel belonged to the heavily-laden freight train that was, of course, right on time.
Gibbs swallowed hard as the light from the distant train lit up the tunnel walls around him. He risked a glance at his two agents, both freezing in their attempts to undo their bonds as the light washed over them. There was unconcealed terror on their faces, but it was tempered by grim acceptance.
The older agent sighed mentally and let his pride show on his face as he nodded once to each of them. Ziva returned the gesture without hesitation, and McGee took only a moment to nod back.
Sitting on his heels, wrists handcuffed tightly, ankles identically bound, chains interlocked in an unbreakable, unbendable mess, Gibbs could do nothing but sit and watch as the train grew steadily closer. The horn sounded, then, and sparks started flying, brakes squealing.
But even as the echo of the compressed air horn rattled his brain, Gibbs did the math.
There was no way the train would stop in time.
Their captors had chosen their spot well. Had he the inclination and more than five seconds to live, he might've broken the mold and verbally acknowledged that fact. As it was, all he could do was close his eyes, bow his head, and wait.
The light suddenly grew brighter, burning his eyes behind his lids, and he turned his head, flinching. He was a Marine, absolutely. But he didn't want to die, either.
Then, abruptly, the light faded.
"You're not dead, you know."
The older agent's eyes snapped open, his vision blurring for moment as he tried to adjust to the room's lighting. He looked right, first, and took in with relief the sight of his two agents. They were all kneeling on small circular pads atop a larger platform.
Then his brain actually dissected what was said and the person that said it, and his attention snapped forward.
Leaning casually against a clear glass partition, his fingers drumming a tune against the bottom console section, decked out in the gold of Starfleet's best and brightest, stood James Kirk. The smile on his face nearly broke his jaw, by the looks of it, and he was positively beaming as he started towards them.
"Looks like we grabbed them at the last second. Good job, Mister Scott," he called over his shoulder.
Behind the glass, a redhead in a matching red shirt with some sort of device propped near his right eye grinned that same infectious grin.
"Beaming three people from an underground tunnel, over two hundred and fifty years in the past, to the Enterprise is far more satisfying than losing Admiral Archer's beagle."
Jim laughed out loud at this and kept that goofy grin on his face as he and two other apparent security officers worked quickly on the bindings imprisoning the team. One of the large, burly men cast a suspicious glance over the trio, but Jim just clapped him on the shoulder.
"Relax, Cupcake. They're not gonna bite."
McGee snorted in a very obvious manner while Ziva simply raised an eyebrow. The security officer rolled his eyes and sighed deeply.
Jim reached down and gave Gibbs a hand up, keeping one hand on his elbow as the older man's legs started to wake up, circulation returning slowly.
"Yeah, yeah. Sorry, Mister Sloan," Jim said, but the twinkle in his eye didn't dim a bit.
Gibbs fought a groan as his thighs began to tingle, the pins and needles distracting him for a moment. Jim heard the hissed breath and immediately turned serious, casting a critical, practiced eye over the three. Seeing nothing immediately amiss, he finally gave into what appeared to be a long-restrained impulse and pulled all three of them into a hug. It was short, but it soothed hurts that had long been festering.
Pulling back, Jim ruffled Tim's hair and asked, "How's the literary world treating you, McWritesalot?"
McGee was about to answer, but something the man Kirk had called Scott had said suddenly snagged his memory.
"Two hundred and fifty YEARS? We're a quarter of a millennium into the future?"
Jim shot a half-hearted glare at man behind the glass and said, "Yeah, well, don't let it get to your head, Marty McFly."
The Captain gave a warm smile to Ziva and murmured something Gibbs didn't catch In Hebrew. Ziva's eyes widened, but then she gave him a soft smile and responded in the same language. Jim nodded once and clasped her forearm gently for a moment, gave it a squeeze, and promptly shifted gears.
"Let's get Bones to give you a once over real quick, then I've got to get back up to the bridge," he said brightly, though his eyes took a slightly harder shine when he mentioned his command.
Gibbs swallowed hard and spoke his first words since arriving on the spaceship.
"What are we doing here, Tony?"
Jim paused for a moment, more than a ghost of a genuine smile passing over his face at the name, but the fleeting image faded almost immediately. His voice grew a bit harder, matching the look in his eyes, and his jaw was tight as he spoke.
"We've got a meeting with Admiral Pike and the Starfleet Command Review Council in a few minutes. They have to decide what to do with you three now," he stated carefully, his voice tending towards diplomacy.
Gibbs froze, half-recalled memories from one of Tony's movies playing through his head: a giant alien being thrown through a spaceship's airlock, screaming as it whirled through the stars. But Jim gaze his shoulder a reassuring squeeze, and he swallowed the thought harshly. Tony would never let them be killed. Not even to protect his future.
But Gibbs knew the futilities of musing on the future, so he pushed those doubts out of his head and nodded.
"Lead the way, DiNozzo."
Jim grinned, the tension momentarily dissipated, and gestured for them to follow as he headed towards the door. It hissed open at their approach and closed shut behind them softly, McGee watching with wide-eyed, boyish curiosity. They trailed the Captain down clean white halls, passing dozens of crewmembers decked out in blues, reds, and blacks. None stopped to salute, though all nodded in respect to their commander.
Gibbs wasn't surprised Jim didn't want them to salute. After all, everything he knew about the man pointed towards a brash, brazen exterior with a fragile, terrified child inside. And he could appreciate that mindset. After all, he had his own demons to hide from.
Then they arrived at a set of doors that simply read 'Sickbay'. Gibbs rolled his eyes and made to protest, but then the doors opened and his words were suddenly caught on the thick cotton that seemed to envelope his tongue.
The room was full of the sick and the injured, some still clad in distinctly Enterprise garb, others wearing nondescript clothing. The older agent froze as he recalled long-buried wartime trauma, the blood and the screams jumping to the forefront. But Jim kept walking, stopping by every bed to give soft words of encouragement or to check a medical chart or two.
"Jim, I told you to…oh. You did."
Kirk turned at his CMO's words, and while his words held sunlight, he knew better than to smile in the devastation around him.
"Of course I brought them, Bones. They seem all right but you never know with these three. Trouble magnets, I swear."
The blue-shirted officer rolled his eyes and brushed an errant lock of hair from his eyes.
"You've got the market cornered on that, Jim. Bring 'em over here," he ordered.
Within five minutes, Gibbs and Ziva were declared fit and healthy, and while McGee hovered close to Ziva as she was finishing getting checked out, the tricorder humming with concern over a small bump on her forehead, Gibbs edged closer to Jim.
His former second was staring over the busy medical center, his eyes shuttered, expression masked, but Gibbs knew him well enough to make out the tense lines in his jaw.
"Trying to fix everything that screwed up when I was timeshifting, we got into a bit of a scrap with a fleet of Romulan Warbirds. We managed to send an SOS right before our comm was fried. Seventeen dead, one hundred and eight injured, twenty two of which are critical and currently in surgery. We're currently limping home on impulse speed – the warp drive was knocked out in the fight. If it weren't for the Hirohito and the Terrison, we wouldn't have made it out of there. Too much like the Kobyashi Maru for my taste. But I don't believe in no-win scenarios."
He fell silent, and Gibbs simply placed a supportive hand on his back. His own throat was tight as he thought about the dead and wounded, and he knew how keenly the other man felt loss. He also knew how much he'd blame himself for it.
"This wasn't your fault, DiNozzo," he offered softly, and Jim turned a wan smile in his direction.
"My ship, my crew. My fault."
His tone brooked no room for argument, but the second B in Gibbs' name stood for bastard.
"Do you think any of them would blame you?"
Jim's expression darkened intensely and he snapped lowly, "I know there are seventeen people who'll never be able to answer that. Nineteen, if Cadet Greyson and Comms Technician To'neak don't make it out of surgery."
But Gibbs was used to this side of the man. He had seen it far too often in their time working together. Jeffrey White, the cold-blooded serial killer Jim had been chained to for two days, had brought out one of the worst bouts of the self-hatred Gibbs had ever seen. That was only eclipsed by the younger man's guilt and helplessness in the face of Kate's murder.
Mentally shaking away the image of Kate dead on that rooftop, Gibbs reached up and firmly cuffed the back of Jim's head, the familiarity behind the gesture more than comforting, to both of them. Jim turned momentarily unreadable eyes towards Gibbs before his expression gave way to resigned acceptance.
"You're not going to let me beat myself up over this while you're here, are you, dad?"
The question was quiet, but Gibbs' gut still clenched and twisted at the amount of love and loyalty the other man put into the title.
"Never, son," he responded, his small half-smile easing some of the tension in Jim's jaw.
Then Ziva was suddenly beside them, and Bones pulled Jim to the side for a moment to confer with him. Taking the short opportunity, McGee asked the obvious question.
"Boss, what happened to everyone? The doctor wouldn't say a word to me or Ziva about it."
Gibbs watched as Jim's shoulders grew a little less burdened with whatever the CMO said, and responded absently, "There was a firefight. They almost lost."
Ziva gave Tim a pointed stare and cleared her throat before asking, "Since we are well, we shall be heading to the loft now?"
"Bridge," Jim corrected as he walked back over to them, his step a bit lighter. He glanced at Gibbs and murmured, "Greyson's out of surgery, and To'Neak is almost done with a good prognosis."
The white haired agent nodded, and Jim turned and led them from sickbay without a word. They found themselves in the same white halls, white leading into more white, and Gibbs half wondered how Jim never got confused. But then he remembered the simple but distinct reverence that had entered his voice when he'd said 'my ship.'
Gibbs was suddenly certain Jim had never and would never get lost.
They arrived at the bridge a few minutes later after a short lift ride that made McGee's head spin with wonder. Stepping towards the large command chair in the middle of the room, Jim was suddenly pounced by a dark-skinned woman.
"I've been paging you for half an hour, Captain! The Review Council has been waiting," she said quickly, and though her words were harsh, Gibbs could make out the underlying respect in her words.
"They'll understand that I was speaking with my CMO regarding the condition of my injured crewmembers," Jim responded easily, but the steel in his words reminded Gibbs why the man always made such a damned fine 2IC.
Turning from the woman with a quick grin, Jim sat in the command chair and asked, "Mister Chekov, I assume that Admiral Pike and the others are cued up?"
A very young man turned and gave an affirmation with a heavy Russian accent. At Jim's nod, the huge glass window in front of them suddenly came alive with a video feed. An older man, maybe about Gibbs' age, stared at the screen with a sort of resigned impatience.
"Captain Kirk, so glad you could join us," he drawled, and Gibbs would've bristled on Jim's behalf, but the easy smile that crossed Kirk's face gave him pause; it was obvious the two were friends.
"My apologies, Chris. Bones held me up in sickbay. Barring further complications, it appears our prior medical report will remain accurate. Bones said he would send you a detailed report regarding the medical situation within the hour," the Captain reported.
The man on the screen nodded and turned his attention to the three very out of place people standing awkwardly next to Jim's chair. He scrutinized them for a moment, then returned his attention to his subordinate.
"In your absence, your first officer Commander Spock discussed a recent development with me and the rest of the Review Council. I need a private word with you, Captain."
If Jim was blindsided, he didn't show it. Instead, he simply nodded and turned to the recently referred man.
"Mister Spock, please take the bridge. I'll be in my ready room," he said as he smoothly stood and headed towards the left side of the bridge.
He paused at his team and gave them a reassuring smile, flashing them what Gibbs had privately coined DiNozzo Smile Number Thirty Two. Then he disappeared into a small but private room to the side, and Pike vanished from the main screen.
It looked like McGee was about to turn into the proverbial kid in a candy store, but Spock, stepping from his post near the dark skinned woman (Uhura, Gibbs pieced together from those long-ago tapped SETI conversations) and stood close to them.
"I must inform you that the entirety of the crew has been ordered not to speak with you, nor are they permitted to allow you access to any technology that is beyond that of the year 2005. This is for our safety, as well as yours," he stated calmly, and the crestfallen look on McGee's face made Gibbs fleetingly wish for a camera.
"Of course, we understand completely. Don't we, McGee?" Ziva asked firmly, her tone grounding any hopes the MIT graduate had of studying their technology.
Gibbs nodded his head once in the alien's direction and refrained from casting a glance towards Jim's ready room. He trusted his friend, but he didn't quite trust the pointy-eared bastard who was ready to let Jim suffer longer at the hands of Romulans simply because he was ordered to keep his mouth shut.
The silence on the bridge was punctuated softly every few moments by computers beeping and crewmembers exchanging reports. The silence stretched for five minutes, then ten, and by the time the far door slid open again, even Gibbs was about to start fidgeting. Instead of exiting the room, Kirk gestured for the three to enter the room, and he called for Spock, as well.
Gathering in the small, cozy room, Gibbs took a quick glance around. A single desk held some sort of computer monitor, and a large window behind it showed stars rolling by slowly. All of them remained standing as Jim took a seat behind the desk, his face unreadable. After a moment, he raised his eyes to his former team and gave a tight smile.
"The Review Council has determined that, upon your oath that you will refrain from speaking of what you have witnessed with any living sentient being to your death, you will be allowed to return to your time."
Ziva let out a sharp breath and nodded once, while McGee seemed torn. Jim led them quickly and efficiently through the oath they were to swear, and didn't bother to include the older agent in the proceeding. After the signing of some document in triplicate, which Spock witnessed, Gibbs finally asked the obvious question.
"And me, Tony?"
Jim exhaled slowly and ran a hand through his hair, his eyes flickering over to the computer screen beside him. He leaned forward and asked, "Ziva, Tim, can you give us a minute? Mister Spock, please join them."
Confused but completely out of their element, the two teammates nodded and exited the room, followed silently by an unperturbed Vulcan. Once the door slid shut, Jim slumped in his chair and fixed Gibbs with a heavy look.
"I tried, Gibbs. You've got to believe that," he prefaced, and the older agent swallowed.
"We managed to fix just about everything that needed to be fixed in the past. History is pretty much completely repaired. But Chris said they noted one final fluctuation in the timeline, one they hadn't noticed until a few hours ago. This fluctuation, if allowed to materialize, will lead to a worldwide nuclear war and will offset Terran space travel by almost three hundred years. If that comes to pass, by the time the Federation is formed, the Romulan Empire will have too strong a foothold in too much of charted space. We'll be obliterated in the war that follows."
Gibbs finally took one of the empty seats, his hands feeling numb. He didn't meet those sharp green eyes as he said the only thing that made sense.
"It's because of me, isn't it? Or something that comes about because of me?"
Jim hesitated, but nodded slightly.
"Not anything you do, boss. Just something that can be attributed to one of your very distant descendants. The Council voted to send you back to that train tunnel Mr. Scott beamed you from and let nature and inertia take its course."
Gibbs' head snapped up, shock obvious in his features, and Jim continued, "But Chris and I managed to convince them otherwise, and they gave me another option, one that I'd prefer to sending you to certain death. But it's your choice."
Then Jim leaned forward, his face serious, and he softly stated, "The Review Council has decided to offer you a permanent position aboard the USS Enterprise as Historical Liaison Officer. You'd remain aboard this ship, always attached to whatever command I'm assigned, teaching cadets, updating historical texts by adding footnotes, and the like. You'd be granted a commission by Starfleet, though with no opportunity for advancement given the situation's sensitive nature. You'd be given shore leave, same as all other officers, though you'd be required to maintain the company of one of my command crew. You'd be given the standard Starfleet officer pay rate, and you'd be eligible for full retirement benefits no matter when you decided to retire. Starfleet would provide whatever retirement accommodations you'd require if you decided to take retirement abnormally early. All they would require is your oath that you would not discuss any of the past with any Starfleet members or civilians that do not have at least a Confidential Security Clearance."
He paused for a moment, and his voice was covered with guilt and poorly-concealed anguish as he whispered, "If you choose the first option, the tunnel, we can arrange it to where you won't feel a thing; you won't even be aware of leaving the ship. But whatever you choose, keep in mind that it's your decision."
Gibbs leaned back in his chair, floored by the words coming from Jim's mouth. It was not an easy choice to make, no matter what story writers would think. There was too much to think about, too many variables to consider. He was vaguely aware of Jim standing and walking around the desk to perch on its edge in front of him.
"That's a hard choice, DiNozzo," he breathed, and he saw Jim nod out of his peripheral.
He took a deep breath and considered dying for a moment. He still dragged around Shannon and Kelly's deaths everyday, his three failed marriages, cold cases, and haunted dreams keeping him occupied when he wasn't thinking of his murdered family. God knows he'd sat in his basement on more than one occasion, drunk to the gills, listening to a tape of Shannon and Kelly playing the piano, his gun resting almost peacefully in his mouth. He'd wished it often, to just be done with the pain, to be done with the burden.
Then he thought about how he never had pulled the trigger, and how he hadn't found himself contemplating suicide once in the four years since Tony had come onto his team. Even with all the secrets he had been hiding, all the differences in persona that had appeared once the cat had been let out of the bag, Gibbs realized that DiNozzo was still the only person he ever wanted on his six.
And who knew how much trouble the younger man would get himself in without Gibbs around to headslap some sense into him?
Looking up, Gibbs noted Jim watching him with terrified patience. He knew that Jim would resign his commission before he ever issued the order to kill him, his military career be damned. And again, he knew how much the other man would blame himself for his death.
"Historical Liaison Officer, eh? Think we can do something about that title?" he asked calmly, abruptly sure of his decision as an unhealthy amount of relief swamped Jim's features.
"I'm sure we can come up with something more apt for a Jarhead like you," he sighed in fake annoyance, though the smile that stretched from ear to ear took the sting out of the normally offensive term.
Then his smile broke, and Jim covered his eyes with a hand for a moment, his face twisting into a grimace. His shoulders shook slightly, and Gibbs immediately stood, unsure of himself but still placing a hand on the man's shoulder.
"God, Gibbs, if you'd chosen…I can't lose another father. Dammit, I just can't," he choked out, and Gibbs gave into the paternal feelings welling up within him and pulled him into a tight hug.
Jim didn't hesitate a moment before wrapping his arms around the older man's back, clutching him almost desperately. Gibbs was reminded of the likeness he made of the man just a short while before: brash and brazen on the outside, fragile and terrified on the inside.
He had definitely made the right choice.
The walk to the transporter room was silent and somber, McGee and Ziva picking up on the mood the second the two men had left the ready room. By the time they reached the room, Tim was practically bouncing with worry.
"What's going on? Gibbs, what happened in there?" he asked in a rush, and Ziva gave him a look, but didn't rebuke his words.
Jim passed a look to Gibbs, asking him a silent question, and Gibbs shook his head, taking a step forward.
"I'm staying here, Tim. I'm not allowed to go back," he stated simply, and McGee's face immediately morphed into anger.
"What? No, they can't do that! Jim, you can't keep him here!"
"Don't blame Tony, McGee. He did what he could. If it wasn't for his interference, I would have been executed instead," he added, and all the color drained from the agent's face.
Ziva swallowed hard and turned her head for a moment, but turned back and asked softly, "You shall be taken care of, correct? You will not be held in prison for the rest of your life, will you?"
Gibbs shook his head and gave a rare chuckle.
"They're making me the Historical Liaison Officer on this ship. I'll be connected with Tony's command. Full commission and a retirement package. Don't worry about that."
Ziva nodded once and turned suspiciously bright eyes to Jim.
"You will take care of each other."
It was not a question, nor a suggestion, and Jim nodded, smiling softly.
"You know it, Ninja Chick."
McGee, still grabbing for any fix to the situation, blurted, "What are we supposed to tell the Director? They'll be searching for you two forever, you know."
Jim produced an envelope of paperwork from some hidden pocket and handed it to Tim.
"Gibbs' letter of resignation, explanation regarding the abruptness of his departure, and instructions for his retirement package to be paid out to his three ex-wives. Also included is an envelope containing an admission of guilt from a terrorist for the kidnapping, torture, and murder of Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo. All the paperwork's in order. There's also a special letter in there for Abby. It should keep her from freaking out too much. Included are special instructions for dealing with our personal belongings."
McGee took the package with disbelief clear on all his features, and he handled in carefully, as though the contents might bite him. He fingered the seal gently before raising defeated eyes to his two mentors.
"This is really the way it's got to be?"
Jim hesitated for a moment, but stepped forward and pulled the man into a firm hug.
"Keep your chin up, McSadness. And when you're ready to settle down with someone, you might want to talk to Abby," he whispered in his ear before pulling back.
Then he turned to Ziva, and with a gentle, almost shy smile on his face, he gave her a single chaste kiss on her cheek and a soft goodbye in Hebrew. Then he stepped back as Gibbs stepped forward, copying his gesture on her other cheek and tapping her chin once, giving her a proud look as he did.
"Keep McGee out of trouble, Miss David," he ordered, and she smiled widely, even though tears were tracking down her face steadily.
Then Gibbs turned to McGee and he pulled him in for a quick one-armed hug.
"There's a file in my desk with the paperwork already filled out and signed to promote you to team leader. Ziva will be your second. There's a pile of agent profiles in my bottom drawer who would make good probies. Choose well. Trust your gut. Listen to your team. You got it, Tim?" he asked softly, gripping the young agent's shoulder firmly.
Tim nodded, barely able to contain his misery, and he clutched the envelope close to his chest.
"Got it, boss."
Good byes said, Ziva nodded one more time to both her former teammates and pulled McGee towards the transporter pads, stepping onto the same ones they'd arrived on. Scottie was still at the console, and he squinted into his eyepiece for a moment before speaking.
"I'm dropping you off in a town about fifty miles from where you were previously captured. There are some working payphones in the gas station there, and the attendant will lend you some money to use them, okey-dokey?"
Ziva didn't respond, but McGee nodded once.
"Will we ever see you two again?" the Mossad agent asked softly.
For just a moment, everyone was able to see the pure and true Tony DiNozzo on Jim's face, and he flashed a wink in her direction.
"You may yet, Zi-va. You never know."
She smiled softly, and Gibbs nodded one last time towards his two friends.
Then the white lights swirled, brightened, and faded, leaving the transporter pad empty. Gibbs huffed out a breath and passed a hand over his eyes. Jim watched him for a moment and let him regain his bearings before speaking.
"You've been up almost forty eight hours, boss. Let's get you some rest, and we'll start on the paperwork in the morning."
Gibbs looked at him, a small grin tugging at the corners of his mouth.
"You gonna keep calling me boss and Gibbs?"
Jim shrugged, giving an answering smile as he replied, "If you keep calling me Tony DiNozzo."
Gibbs smiled a full grin and shook his head, saying, "It's a deal, DiNozzo. It's a deal."
Two months later, Terran Historical Officer Leroy Jethro Gibbs strode onto the bridge of the USS Enterprise with purposeful steps. Wearing the usual black pants and blue shirt of the command crew, he blended in with the crewmembers. Most had even taken a shine to him. Except for one.
"DiNozzo, that man is an idiot!"
Sitting in his chair, Jim looked up from the report he was reading and cheekily responded, "Really? He just sent me a report detailing an identical view of you, Boss."
Gibbs fumed and snapped, "He honestly thinks that machines make better boats than hand tools! Has he even tried to make a boat with his bare hands before?"
Jim shrugged and said, "He's a naval historian, Gibbs. Your guess is as good as mine. You could always show him, you know."
"I don't have a basement anymore, DiNozzo," snapped the irate ex-agent, though it as obvious his anger wasn't directed at his Captain.
Grinning, Jim jumped up and said, "Really? You know, I think it's time I introduced you to the wonders of the holodeck."
The end! I didn't know quite how to end it, and I know Gibbs was OOC, but considering the fact that he does nothing but make boats in the series, I thought he could argue about boats in the future. Made some kind of sense to me. So, R&R if you want. :D
And yes, for those that picked up on it, this completely changes the ending of my previous crossover. Good for you for grabbing that!