THE END IS HERE! Muhahaha, that was creepy, sorry. Anyways, here's the FINAL chapter!
Thanks to my readers and reviewers:
1Styx and Stones1
You guys helped me make it through this story; I love you all more than my boyfriend! Oh wait, I am forever alone and I do not have a boyfriend. MY BAD.
Snapshot: Jenny and Jethro.
After Gibbs' second interrogation, Talbot managed to cough up more information on the child-slavery ring. One hundred and six girls, ages six to nineteen were located from across the country, with the locations of seventy to eighty girls more in the works. The eight girls who had been in Talbot's basement at the time of his arrest had all been returned safely to their homes.
The little blonde who had died however, remained unidentified.
It took Megan McLaughlin nine weeks to make a full recovery but soon after her parents arrived at the hospital she came out of her coma. It was one of those Kodiak moments, Girl wakes up from coma, sees parents and estranged sister, and suddenly everything is all better. She made a full deposition as to what went on in the House of Horrors, and her testimony helped send the ring of criminals to jail.
The final day of the trail had dawned bright and clear, and everyone involved came out of the court house smiling. The ordeal was over; the criminals behind bars, and all seemed to be right in the world.
It was a bittersweet moment for more than one reason, however. That day was Lacey's last day in Gibbs' care. She stood with the group outside of the courthouse, her little hand grasping his, all her earthly belongings tucked neatly into a backpack at her feet. She was going to be living with the McLaughlin family, something that had made her grin crazily when Mr. and Mrs. McLaughlin had first proposed it.
Now as she watched the chatting adults, she seemed to shrink closer to Gibbs. He smiled reassuringly at her. Mrs. McLaughlin smiled at her husband and two daughters then at the newest member of her household, "Are you all ready to go home?"
Megan and Julia nodded enthusiastically, "Yes, please!"
Mr. McLaughlin smiled at his family, agreeing as well, "I agree. How about we stop for ice cream on the way home?"
There was more enthusiastic 'yeses'. All eyes turned to Gibbs and Lacey, "Are you ready to go, Lacey honey?" Mrs. McLaughlin asked gently.
Lacey's wide blue eyes were filling with tears, but she wiped them away with the sleeve of her dress.
Gibbs kneeled to her level, looking her straight in the eyes. He spoke softly so no one but Lacey heard what he said, "We talked about this, remember?"
Curt nod of a little brunet head.
"And you promised to be a big girl for me, no tears."
"You don't have to be sad, we'll get to see each other any time we want to okay?"
"So can you give me a big Lacey smile? I want to remember smiles, not tears."
Lacey nodded a final time, wiping at her eyes and smiling at Gibbs with all her little heart. She had no idea how much it was breaking his own heart.
He stood up and handed her little bag to Mr. McLaughlin with a smile, knowing at least four copies of his business card were floating around in there somewhere, along with some old crayons and borrowed clothes.
"Thank you so much, for everything," Mrs. McLaughlin said, wrapping her arms around each of the team members before they had a chance to protest. She looked back at her family, "Alright guys, we've got ice cream to eat, let's go!"
Megan and Julia each took one of Lacey's hands and together they skipped towards the blue McLaughlin SUV. The whole team, Jenny, Ducky, Palmer, Abby, McGee, Ziva, Tony, Gibbs, and even Tatyanna and Hunter, watched as the family loaded into the car. Lacey pulled her hands back from the sisters just before she climbed into the back seat of the car. She turned and surveyed the team for a long minute, "Bye Gibbs! Come see me soon!"
Then, as though nothing monumental had happened, she scampered into the car, leaving everyone who'd ever met her stunned.
So the little mute girl wasn't as mute as they had thought.
One by one, or two by two to be more accurate, the team began to wonder off. Tatyanna and Hunter were needed back in the Miami office, something about a possible serial killer, "He cuts the victims hair then slits their throats," Tatyanna said, clapping her hands excitedly, "He's like a real-life Sweeny Todd!"
Hunter rolled his eyes, "Only you would be excited for this kind of a case." He smiled graciously at the team, shaking hands with everyone. "It was quite an experience working with y'all. Don't hesitate to drop in if you're ever in Miami."
Tatyanna was writing her number on Ziva's hand. Since they had met that morning in court, the two had found they had a lot in common, a talent for learning languages for one. "Call me, Zeeeee-vahhh," she said with a dramatic wave.
Ziva laughed, adding something in some language that Tony couldn't decipher, waving back as the two Miami agents disappeared into their rented Charger.
The remaining team stood for a minute before Palmer stuttered something about a date, and slipped away. Ducky closely followed him; it was WWE RAW night in the Mallard house and the dogs still needed to be walked.
Abby grabbed McGee and yanked him towards her car, she was still wary about letting him out of her sight, "Come on McGrumpy, I'll buy the coffee."
"Abby, come on, I have a lot of work to catch up on-" he never got to finish his statement, one look of death from Gibbs and a pair of puppy eyes from Abby and he had folded. He sighed dramatically, "Alright, I could use some coffee-"
Abby squealed, flinging one of her famous hugs on her best friend, "I knew you'd say yes Timmy!"
They disappeared into the parking lot as well; only the occasional bouncing black pigtail could be seen.
"I too should be heading home," Ziva said, stretching her arms above her head, "There is a pile of laundry the size of an elephant waiting for me at home." She waved and started towards her car.
"I gotta go too," Tony said, checking his watch, "The Bourne Movie Marathon is on tonight, don't wanna miss that. See ya tomorrow boss. And Director."
He left with a jaunty wave, but didn't head directly towards his own car. Jen and Gibbs watched with some amusement as he jogged to catch up with Ziva. Though they couldn't hear all of what was being said, they could fill in the blanks.
"Hey, Zee-vah. How about you skip the laundry and do a movie-slash-dinner with me."
Ziva looked dubious, "Why would I want to do that?"
Tony looked thoughtful, "Because I'm a great cook and I might have the newest Pirates of the Caribbean on my Netflix."
Ziva snorted, "You cook, that's a laugh."
Tony shrugged, still grinning, "Well, I do call for takeout really well."
Ziva bent to unlock her car door, "I don't know, I am very tired-"
"Johnny Depp. Sweet and Sour Chicken."
Ziva stood back, weighing her options, "Alright right, you have twisted my leg."
"Arm, twisted your arm."
"No, it's 'Pulled your arm' and 'Twisted your leg' stupid. You are confused."
Tony snorted loudly, "English is my first language. You're the confused one."
The unspoken agreement of taking her car let them continue the conversation until they were still out of sight of the final remaining team members.
Jenny glanced at her old partner, "It's been a long week, huh?"
He nodded, "Yep."
They stood for a moment longer before Jenny made up her mind, "How 'bout I buy you dinner?"
"Sweet and Sour Chicken?" Gibbs joked with a smile.
She rolled her eyes with a flirtatious grin, "I was actually thinking that little steak place in Georgetown, but if you prefer Chinese…"
He hooked his arm hers, "Nope, steak is fine."
She laughed, "Remember the last time we were there? And that Russian mobster shot out the front window…?"
They walked towards his car in a fog of memories, happily pretending that they were still partners without a care in the world. For in that moment they weren't Special Agent Gibbs and Director Shepard, boss and employ, they were simply Jenny and Jethro.
Snapshot: Jenny and Jethro.
Wow, that came out a lot better than I anticipated. I might do another full length NCIS fic sometime, I have a few ideas. Add me to your author alert!
Lots of love guys,