Marines Never Retire

By PaBurke

Summary: Another day, another ghost hunt –'cept when it turns into something bigger and odd.

Spoilers: Mid season two for Supernatural, Season 5 finale for NCIS. I am completely ignoring the canon source for the brother's names.

Rating: Young Adult, I guess.

Warnings: Language, Dean has such a foul mouth. Angst. Much more angsty than I had planned.

Disclaimer: So not mine. Not one iota.


"Damnit Sam, you're supposed to duck!"

"Shuddup, Dean."

The brothers were fighting a pair of ghosts in fatigues who, for some strange reason, had guns that they could shoot at humans and hurt them. Well, there was that one serial killer little girl ghost that could kill with a knife. These two ghosts had scared an entire DC ghetto and it was the Winchesters' job to stop them. It didn't help that the ghosts had smartened up to their ways and were damn fast. Sam and Dean would have to retreat, regroup and try to find out where in Arlington these two were buried.

"Wait a minute," the African soldier-ghost held up his hand and his comrade stopped shooting too. "I thought you looked familiar. Are you John's boys?"

Dean cocked the shotgun (yet again) and aimed it at the talker. "Who wants to know?"

The man indicated himself with a thumb. "I'm Samuel Joseph Jackson and this here is Dean Baker. We were Marines with John Winchester."

Whatever Dean had been expecting from the ghost, this was not it.

The Other Dean stood up (Dean noticed that could he easily seek cover from his position) and peered at the boys. "The young one's a pretty boy. Definitely gets that from his mother. Mary was one hell of a lady."

"Do you have a younger brother named Leroy? Or Jethro?" Samuel asked.

"No, no," Dean Baker argued. "John wouldn't saddle a kid with either of those. The boy's name is Gibbs, right?"

"We don't have a younger brother," Sam said.

"Why the hell not?" Baker challenged. "John promised that he'd name a kid after each person in our unit. It doesn't matter that Samuel and me were the only ones to die over there."

"Mom died soon after Sam," Dean informed him.

"Shit! Mary's dead?" Samuel was genuinely disturbed by the news.

Sam Winchester spoke testily, "Yeah, what's it to you?"

"We're friends of John, like we said. How'd he take the news?"

"How do you think?"

"Not well. Has he recovered?"

"Why don't you ask him yourself?"

"He's with you?" the two men look genuinely hopeful.

"No. He's on your side of the veil."

"Then why didn't he look us up?" asked Baker.

Silence. That subject was much too sore between the brothers to expose it to almost strangers, especially strange, chatty ghosts who might or might not have served with their dad. They would have to call up Deacon and ask.

Samuel figured it out fast without any more clues. "Damnit! Winchester did something stupid and Marine-like to save you kids and got taken alive. 'Cause he didn't do anything during the war to merit that."

Dean couldn't help but to mutter, "The alive part is in serious question."

"Dean," Sam hissed but the dead Marines were snickering.

"You've got your old man's sense of humor, kid."

"So Winchester was stupid enough to get captured, I guess we're going to have to drag his sorry ass out of Hell."

"You can do that?" Dean's gun dropped to his side. He couldn't believe that these two were offering.

"It'll take some serious recon-" Samuel started.

Baker added, "-Those hell hounds are no slouches-"

"And some recruiting-"

"But there are a lot of good, dead, bored Marines to choose from-"

"-On this side."

Dean was starting to get irritated with how they finished each other's sentences. "Will you?"

"Sure kid." Dean Baker reached out and tugged on some invisible string. Dean nearly lost his balance with the force pulling him forward, but his stubbornness won out and he stayed on his feet.

"We're going to need an anchor on this side to find out way back out though," Baker said as he eyed Sam.

"Hell, no." Dean stepped between the ghosts and his brother. "Under no circumstances are you using my brother for your foolhardy mission."

"He's stronger," Samuel tried to tempt them. "And your father is in an everlasting torment."

"You are not dragging Sam anywhere." The invisible string between the two Deans became slightly visible to Dean's eyes, so he reached out and yanked on it with all his might. Dean Baker went flying forward this time and did a face plant on the cement floor.

Samuel laughed his ass off. "You so deserved that one."

"Go to hell, Jackson." Baker stood and glared at his namesake. Dean grinned back at him. "Who are we going to use then?"

"Oh, that's easy," Samuel said. "The gunny. I know of no better rock."

"Gibbs, you're right. He'll just have to stay alive while we're on patrol and we're all good."

The two ghosts started bickering about other Marines to invite to their 'party' and faded out of existence. Sam and Dean Winchester stared at each other. This was certainly not how they had imagined their evening ending.


"What do you have for me, Abby?"

The Goth forensic scientist squealed in delight and rushed to hug him. "You're all right, you're all right," she chanted.

Gibbs sighed, put down the Caff-Pow and held Abby still by the shoulders. "Abby, I'm fine. Ducky looked me over."

"But someone shot at you, Gibbs. Again."

Gibbs resisted the urge to finger the bandage on his head. "Cocky. Going for a headshot when he wasn't good enough."

"The sniper could be a girl, Gibbs," Abby countered.


"How do you know?"

"The sniper was Ducky's second patient of the morning and he won't be leaving the morgue any time soon."

"Agent Wright," Abby spat out Gibbs' new team member's name, "said that you didn't have a chance to get a shot off. Who killed him?"

Gibbs handed over an evidence bag containing an empty bag of peanut M&Ms. "You tell me. This was the most notable item at the second sniper's nest."

Abby managed a cheeky grin. "Only you would have a sniper for a guardian angel."

Gibbs grunted and turned to leave.

"Gibbs!" Abby shouted.

He didn't paused, but couldn't ignore Abby's parting shot.

"I'm glad you have a guardian angel. You've had too many close calls this week."

He called Ziva's phone again as soon as he got in the elevator. She didn't answer. Again. There was every possibility that her plane was landing in Tel Aviv as it should be. He had put her on the plane himself after the first 'accident.' There were a lot of people who wanted him dead and there weren't a lot of people who would kill for him. Though he had to get this cleared up fast; if Tony found out there was a bounty on Gibbs' head, he'd end up AWOL. DiNozzo supposed to ship out in three days. His career couldn't handle another hit.

Someone was gunning for NCIS agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs and he didn't have his team, any team to watch his six. He refused to let it change his life, though he knew enough not to have habits. No sense in living stupid. He sent Agent Wright out to get his coffee two days in a row. Abby had 'swung by' to pick up his mid-day coffee because the lab was getting stuffy. She might have also been running from the new Director and his mandates, but Gibbs approved of her tactics and her results.

So it had been forty-eight hours since Gibbs himself had made a coffee run. Long enough. DiNozzo should be sequestered on a base, getting ready for his sea tour. He wouldn't know if anything happened. So Gibbs went for a walk. He knew immediately that he had a tail. The gangbanger wasn't very stealthy. Gibbs could have picked him out of a line up even though he hadn't looked straight at him.

Then Gibbs stopped at a crosswalk and glanced behind him. The gangbanger was gone.

That was worrisome.

He hadn't seen it happen. Whoever took out the gangbanger was a hell of a lot more professional than most that had been following him. Gibbs wondered for a moment if it was his 'guardian sniper.' He went in to his favorite coffee shop and ordered his usual.

"I got it," a tall young man gave the cashier money for Gibbs' coffee. He smiled at Gibbs.

He was no one that he knew, though there was something familiar about the dimples. He waited until Gibbs had accepted his coffee and was walking out the door. He stacked one of his coffees on the other and held out his hand. "Sam Winchester."

Gibbs blinked. Winchester. That was a name he hadn't heard in decades. "You know who I am," he grunted.

Sam smiled and ducked his head. Damn, was he tall. "Yeah. Though Dean and I had heard about you before we caught wind of the bounty." He waited a moment. "Do you know how much they're offering for you?"

"A mill." Abby hadn't found the on-line 'Wanted Dead' site yet, but she would and then she would take it down. That would stop any new would-be mercenaries, but not those already hunting him.

Sam nodded, not surprised that he knew. "Do you know who's offering it?"

"I've made a lot of enemies."

"How many within in the NCIS?"

Gibbs stopped, completely surprised. "The bounty didn't come from anyone within the NCIS. That's just a false trail."

"No. It isn't," Sam countered.

"Killing me would hurt the NCIS."

Sam stepped in front of him and pleaded. "Will you please at least look at our evidence? We've got the phone call."

"Then give it to me."

"Will you turn it over to someone within the NCIS?"

"I know who I can trust."

Sam Winchester's frustration showed on his face. He rubbed his hand through his shaggy hair. "How sure are you that you won't be putting them in danger?"

A disturbing thought, so Gibbs used a deflection. "Why does John let you keep your hair that long? Are you a girl?"

Sam laughed at that. "Now you are channeling John Winchester. It's one of the many things that we fought about."

Gibbs noticed the past tense. "Where is John?"



There was a flash of pain and grief that was not faked. "No," Sam breathed. "It's not convenient in the least."

The truth was enough that Gibbs stopped to listen. "Why are you helping me?"

"You saved Dad's life, a couple times from what we hear, we owe you that much."

"You've already repaid that. With the sniper shot."

Sam shook his head. "Dean… he's not wired that way. He can't do it again. I won't let him. And you are still in a lot of danger. We're not asking you to fake your death or anything, though Dean thinks that that'd be a great way to rub your enemies' noses in their mistake. We just are asking you to take a vacation and let us follow leads. We can do this and you can be back to your regular life in a week."


Sam's frustration was evident on his face. "Please. We need you to stay alive."

"I have people that I look after."

"Give us the names and we'll do it."

"I wouldn't even have let John do it. My people, my job."

"What about Deacon?"

If Gibbs hadn't believed the boy before, he would have now. Sam dropped names with the ease of one long associated with these people. "He's busy."

"We can talk him into taking a vacation."

Gibbs smirked at the insinuation. "No."

Sam looked so sorrowful. He took two steps back. "Than I'm sorry."

Jethro felt the pinch in his buttocks. He didn't need to look to know that it was a tranquilizer dart. He tried to lunge forward to grab Sam, but even balancing two coffees, he was too quick. The boy even had time to Iset/I the coffees down and then catch him so that he wouldn't crack his head on the pavement.

Leroy Jethro Gibbs had one last thought before the dark smothered him: John would have been proud of his boys' plan and how well they executed it.


Abby paced back and forth. Each time Gibbs' phone shunted her to voicemail, she hung up and tried again.

And again.

And again.

Finally, her lab phone rang to tell her that McGee had entered the building. She took off at a run. She attempted some decorum as she hurried through the bullpen to McGee's new desk with the geek squad. She actually beat him there.

McGee saw her waiting and motioned his head toward the lunchroom. She jerked forward like a puppet on a string. "Gibbs isn't answering his phone," were the first words out of her mouth. "I don't know if I should call Tony."

"Call him."

"But what if I can't reach him?"

"I've been keeping him informed. He's been giving me advice for how to protect Gibbs."

"Not enough," Abby muttered. She immediately apologized when she saw the stricken look on his face. She took her phone out of her pocket and hit speed dial '#6.'

Tony answered on the second ring. "Talk to me Abbs."

"Gibbs went missing. He's not answering his phone and it's been hours. He never ignores me for this long!"

Silence. From Tony, it was louder than wailing and weeping. "You still good with numbers?" he asked out of the blue.


"Then call this number." He rattled off ten-digit string.

"Who is it?"

"Your favorite Israeli. Call outside of the NCIS, Abbs."

"Oh no," Abby breathed the sense of betrayal.

"Oh yes. And Abby, a sudden computer malfunction is about to happen to all the computers on base, right?"

"Oh, yes." Abby grinned at being able to actually help the cause.

"Oh, no," Tony teased back. "Keep me in the loop."

He hung up but Abby barely noticed. She was already dragging McGee out of the building. The Probie wasn't complaining or asking questions. He had been working with Tony and Abby forgave him for not involving her, sort of.

"How far until I can make a phone call?" She asked. He would know since it was his new job to update the security system.

"Around this next corner. There's a blind spot that I've put in orders to have fixed, but it hadn't happened yet."

Abby was already dialing the number Tony had said. She got shunted to voicemail again. This message was definitely Ziva's voice speaking Spanish. Abby hated being involved in the cloak and dagger like this. She didn't belong in this situation. She had to remind herself not to use names. "Hey, it's me. And important, I mean that something important happened not that I'm important. Anyway, the Bossman has disappeared and I can't find him anywhere. Help, please? Bye."

"Now what?" McGee asked.

"Tony thinks something is about to happen to all the computers on his base."

McGee blanched. "We could get into a lot of trouble."

"Only if we get caught." And at that moment, Abby didn't care one way or the other. She and McGee needed Tony to save Gibbs. Nothing else mattered.


Gibbs awoke to soft spoken words and birds chirping. There was little light where he was and it was all natural. The smells were muted and old, dusty. He also smelled cleaning solution and… salt? Then he heard the sounds of plastic rubbing and coffee was waved under his nose.

Gibbs opened his eyes and admitted that he was awake. He didn't recognize the kid in front of him, offering the coffee, but he did recognize the tall kid hovering in the background looking guilty.

Gibbs tried to lunge forward but got nowhere. One hand was handcuffed to the bed and his feet were tied to the other end.

The kids got out of his way and were watching him carefully.

"Coffee?" the shorter one offered.

"Dean?" Gibbs guessed.

Dean grinned. "Yep. The coffee is hot and black. I'll give it to you if you promise not to throw it at me."

Gibbs glared.

Dean shrugged. "Suit yourself." He made himself comfortable in the bed out of arms' reach and drank the coffee himself.

Sam looked even guiltier. "We really are trying to help." He offered Gibbs the folder as if to a cobra. Despite the ease with which they had felled him, they still respected his abilities. Dean was watching him just as intently.

Gibbs accepted the folder. Both boys were too wired for him to get the jump on them at this moment. Sam stepped back to watch and Dean got out guns to clean. Gibbs knew that at least one gun was ready to be fired at him at a moments notice. Dean was also cleaning Gibb's gun while he was at it. The sniper's rifle was cleaned with a solemn surety. Then it was placed in a case and locked. Sam took the keys and the case and walked away with it. Gibbs saw how the burden lifted off Dean slightly even as his fingers twitched. It took someone special to know their limits and Dean knew that he would lose a part of his humanity if he used the rifle again. All that accuracy was put into Sam's hands and judgment. Gibbs hoped that he was as wise as his brother.

Gibbs turned his attention to the folder. It was well-ordered and followed the paper trail. The absence of paperclips was intentional and annoying. So much was missing but Gibbs was able to make the same intuitive leaps in logic that had led the Winchesters to this place. Someone within the NCIS was a traitor and was sabotaging his work.

That much certain, Gibbs turned his attention to the surroundings, to plan an escape that would let him do something about the problem. They were in a cabin in the woods. They must be a good sixty miles from DC, if not further. Gibbs knew that it was intentional; they didn't want to have to gag him. From the cracks in the walls and the holes in the windows, this might be someone's abandoned cabin. Gibbs looked around more. This seemed familiar.

Had he been here before? Or did all abandoned cabins look the same? Sam and Dean must have cleaned with bleach and a scrub brush on their hands and knees. Gibbs could still smell the cleaning fluid.

Samuel's, they were at Jackson's family cabin. Gibbs had been here once, with John Winchester to dump ashes in the back woods. Jackson hadn't wanted his mother to have the burden. Gibbs and Winchester had dragged Jackson's body back to the fort, though they had to leave one of his arms behind. Coming to this cabin to disperse the ashes had been finishing the job. Thoughts of Samuel Jackson led to thoughts of Dean Baker. That Marine had been hurt in the same offensive that had killed Jackson. Baker had been severely injured, but either hadn't noticed or had decided not to tell anyone. He had walked back to base, only to fall in front of everyone. He had been dead before the medics could reach him. Gibbs and Winchester had lost half of their team that day. Winchester had made a promise and he had, at least, kept part of it.

"Do you two have a younger sibling?" he asked.

The boys looked pained. "No," Sam answered. "Mom died six months after I was born."

Gibbs nodded. He had wondered what part of his name Mary would have approved of. Now, they would never know.

Dean went about his business but Sam started mixing things in a really large bowl. Whatever the mixture was, he was spreading it around the perimeter of the cabin. He smiled at Gibbs, but there was an edge to it.

"Just let me know when you get hungry," Sam said.

Sam was nervous, as was Dean. Dean was now lighting up some incense and shit. What were Winchester's boys doing? What weren't they telling him? "Where's my team?"

Dean shrugged. "They haven't found us."

"We don't leave a lot of hints," Sam added.

But if anyone could find them, it would be his team. Gibbs trusted his team.


"Well?" Tony asked as he walked into the lab with a Caff-Pow.

"Nothing yet," Abby said tightly. "Ziva called from the coffee shop. Someone else paid for Gibbs' drink, but the shop had a mysterious problem with the surveillance system today. McGee is following up with a sketch artist. Preliminary accounts say that our mystery man is tall, dark and handsome. 6'5"-ish."

Tony nodded. "Cocky, talking to him in broad daylight and not shooting him from a rooftop like the last one."

Abby whirled on her co-worker, snatched the drink meant for her and whirled back to her computers. "What I want to know is where Gibbs' guardian angel is this time?"

"If you were Gibbs' guardian angel, how would you keep him safe?" It was an idle question that was not asked idly.

"I'd shove him into his basement," she mumbled, "with plenty of whisky and no phone. Then I'd booby-trap his yard."

"Me too. So would anyone else that knew Gibbs and wanted to keep him alive. I think there is a possibility that the guardian angel is the kidnapper," Tony floated the idea.

Abby relaxed slightly. "But we don't know." She continued urging her computers to operate at their fullest.

"Abby," Tony prodded. "Forget the coffeeshop, well, until McGoober can get us something to work with. Abby, help me find who in NCIS put a hit out on Gibbs. We can help make him safe after we get him back.

Abby glared and then submitted. "McGee and I already took down the website that said 'Gibbs, Wanted Dead.' If it hadn't been Gibbs, it would have been kinda cool since it looked like an Old West wanted poster." She grinned at Tony. "We did save a screenshot. Gibbs would be able to use it in interrogation and it would have tickled," she stopped and set her jaw. "It will tickle Gibbs' funny bone."

*ncis* spn*

Gibbs felt the first tug and didn't know what it was. It woke him up from his resting. He had been waiting for the right moment to escape, storing up his strength and concentrating on nothing else. The tug was inside of him and it hurt. It was as if his ribs were coming out of place for no reason.

Dean noticed his discomfort first. "What's wrong?"

Gibbs just glared at him. Then he felt something tug at his ribcage again and couldn't help but pressing on his breastbone to keep it still.

Sam had heard Dean's question and saw Gibbs' motion. "It's starting," he said.

Dean grabbed one shotgun and surrounded himself with other guns at his post by the open window. Sam grabbed the remaining guns and left, presumably for the door.

"What's starting?" Gibbs demanded.

Dean smirked over his shoulder. Gibbs had seen Tony in that very pose so many times. "You wouldn't believe us if we told you."

"Try me."

Dean just laughed at him. The tug on Gibbs' chest got worse. "Am I having a heart attack?"

"I sure hope not. That would send all our plans straight to hell."

Part of Gibbs agreed with the boy. Though his chest hurt, he didn't have any of the other symptoms of cardiac arrest. He could still breath and his fingertips were not turning blue. "What is going on?" If Dean was anything like Tony, then he liked to talk. Gibbs just had to get him started.

"Long story."

Gibbs jerked at the handcuffs restraining him to the bed. He sure hoped that those cuffs weren't his, but they probably were and Tony and his team better not find out about this. "I'm not going anywhere."

Dean grunted and held out a hand signaling for silence. Gibbs' first instinct was to obey. What was going on? Gibbs didn't know if shouting for help would actually bring him help or one of the many people trying to fill the damn contract on his head. He waited and waited. Then there was a sharp tug on his chest. He sucked in his breath in pain, he couldn't help it.

In the midst of this, Sam used his shotgun. Dean's gun echoed soon after.

"Gibbs," a woman called out.

Gibbs turned his head and knew that he was having severe medical problems. "Shannon?" His beautiful wife stood at his bedside.

"You've got to hold on, Leroy Jethro Gibbs. You have to pull back."

"Shannon, why are you telling me this? I miss you." Gibbs reached for her.

"The boys are pulling you into our realm. You have to pull back."

Shannon wasn't making any sense. Why was Gibbs already dead? When did he die? It must have been rather painless. "I love you. I loved you so much."

"I know, honey. We love you too. Pull back, Gibbs. Now."

Gibbs felt pain on his face and blinked his eyes. When he opened them Shannon was no longer there and Dean was slapping his face. "Damnit," the young man swore. "You are not supposed to die. That was not in the agreement. Baker and Jackson said that you could hold out."

Gibbs sharpened his gaze. "You are not talking about Baker and Jackson as your namesakes." They had died long before Dean had been born. The kid never had a chance to hear them speak.

"Of course not," Dean lied. "They're dead. You aren't. So act like it."

"Yeah Daddy," Kelly echoed. "Act alive."

"Dig in your heels, old man," Dean taunted. "You gonna let down your team now?"

"You never your team down," Gibbs hear Kate say. What was his medical problem? Was he going crazy hearing the voices of the dead?

No. He would not let down his team. He would be alive for when Abby got his team together and on the Winchester boys' trail. Gibbs set his jaw and willed his body to behave. If he was really having a heart attack, this wouldn't work. But it did. The pain subsided into a tight tension. It didn't pull with every heartbeat.

Dean evaluated him. "Better. I thought you were going soft on us, but then again you are a retired Marine."

Kelly (KELLY!) appeared in front of him. "Don't you call my Daddy retired! He's the best!"

Dean blinked. Gibbs had thought that Kelly was just in his head, but Dean crouched in front of his little girl, interacting with her. "Is he now?"

"Yes!" Kelly put her hands on her hips and nodded emphatically. Gibbs hoped that he was dead. He wanted to keep watching his precious daughter yell at Dean.

"Why are you here?" Dean asked Kelly.

"Because you were making the veil thin," Kelly's voice indicated that it was more a question than an answer. "Mommy said that we'd get to see Daddy just this once and he'd get to see us. I'm not goin' to waste my time watchin' you be mean to my Daddy."

"Sometimes you have to be mean to Marines to stop them from being stupid," Dean told Kelly (Kelly!). "He was being stupid and not fighting back. We all lose that way."

Kelly sighed. She looked over her shoulder and smiled at Gibbs. Oh, he had missed that smile. Gibbs smiled back at her. "Please don't be too mean to Daddy?"

"I promise," Dean said. "He's helping us out as well. Why don't you climb on the bed and keep your daddy company as we finish this?"

"Dean," Sam's stressed voice bit out.

Dean grabbed his shotgun and tossed his brother extra shells. Sam smoothly caught them and loaded two. He fired them immediately. Dean was doing the same in the window, his previous post. Gibbs really wanted to see the enemy, but he was focused on the little girl that had blurred to his side. She leaned against him. She was so cold. Gibbs wrapped his arms around her, trying to warm her up.

"I'm fine, Daddy," she huffed. "I'm dead, and we snuck out of heaven, so we're fine. We won't have any problems sneaking back in. Aunt Katie is really sneaky for us. She'll lead the way. Anyway, we can't get cold." She looked up and Gibbs followed suit. Shannon was standing there, smiling. She was so insubstantial, but she was the same beautiful woman. "Right, Mommy?"

"Right, Baby Girl," Shannon told her.

Dean breathed a sound of worry and Gibbs was distracted by whatever was happening outside.

"Baby Girl," Shannon said. "Your Daddy needs to help Sam and Dean. Can you help him get out of the handcuffs?"

Gibbs blinked. Shannon was whispering in his daughter's ear. Kelly looked so intent as she stared at Gibbs' handcuffs. Gibbs opened his mouth to tell his girls where Dean had hidden the key, but just then, the handcuffs popped open.

"Good job," Gibbs told her as he reached out and untied his feet from the end of the bed.

She grinned up at him and kissed his cheek.

Gibbs patted her head as he slid out of bed and toward the uninhabited window that had a shotgun leaning under it. He grabbed the shotgun and was pointing it out the window before he focused on his targets.


And monsters. But mostly ghosts. He shouldn't have been too surprised considering that he had been holding his dead daughter and his cheek still tingled with cold.

"Hey Marine," Dean shouted. "We're covering their retreat, so shoot already!"

Gibbs didn't need to be told twice. He opened fire on the monsters and watched them dissolve into black ash. With their way clear, Marines of all ages and from all the ages past and present, started stumbling through the walls and into Jackson's cabin. They dropped their burdens (which were hurt Marines) and darted back into the battle. The hurt Marines fixed each other up and the more they healed, the more they lightened, brightened, until one and then another dissolved into a flood of light.

"Search and Rescue," Sam muttered. "They only had one prisoner that they were supposed to release."

Dean snorted. "You seriously thought the Marines were going to storm the gates of hell and only march out with one new soul? Nah, Sammy, they were going to grab every soldier that had made a crossroads deal to keep his friends alive."

"Damn straight," two Marines agreed. They were strangers to Gibbs, but they were in uniform so that made them brothers.

The Marines were retreating as a unit now. They could reach the cabin, but the monsters and the 'bad' ghosts couldn't get inside. They seemed angry and stuck behind some invisible line. Wasn't that the perimeter that Sam Winchester had poured some stuff one. One by one the soldiers either faded away or burst into light. With each ghost that passed on, the scent of the incense burning seemed to grow weaker. Gibbs recognized several faces before they disappeared. Samuel Joseph Jackson and Dean Baker saluted Gibbs before vanishing from sight. Their job was completed successfully. Gibbs wanted to know what was happening and then again, he didn't if the explanation included ghosts.

And any explanation would include ghosts.

Soon it was only the ghost of John Winchester sitting between his two sons. Gibbs sat on the other end of the cabin. He was bookended by his beautiful girls. All the other ghosts had passed on to wherever. Gibbs politely gave the Winchester family as much privacy as possible. He kept talking to Shannon, kept asking Kelly questions, anything to prolong the contact. He spoke of silly things, of current events, of things that he knew did not interest Shannon or Kelly. He had a feeling that Dean was doing the same thing on the other side of the cabin.

Gibbs spoke until his voice gave out and his eyes drooped shut. He felt a whisper of ice on his cheek and another one on his lips.

When he awoke, he was alone.

So very alone.

Gibbs collected his gun and his cell phone. The Winchester brothers had removed all evidence of their involvement. He trudged out of the woods and called for a taxi pickup. He had the taxi drive him home.

To the very empty house.

He knew that he should call his team before they went AWOL looking for him but he couldn't face them and their (very alive) reactions to him. It hurt too much. It was too much to bottle up like he normally did.

He felt a whisper of ice on his cheek and another one on his lips.

When he awoke, he was alone.

So very alone.


"Leroy Jethro Gibbs!" a woman yelled.

Gibbs turned and stared. Kate –Kate Todd- was standing right there with her hands on her hips and with much more authority than she had ever held while alive.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?" she asked.

"Mourning," Gibbs barked at her.

His reactions no longer could make her scurry for cover. She had changed in death. "Well, quit it. I just dropped off your family to the safest place they could be and they don't want you mopping around. Sent me just to make sure it doesn't happen."

"Can you bring them back?" Gibbs asked hopefully.

"No." Kate's answer held no room for negotiation. "They belong in heaven and right now you belong on earth. Now get off your ass and call up Abby. Your team is looking for you. They found the agent that was trying to murder you and they need you to scare the living daylights out of him."

"I need time," Gibbs insisted. "And I don't have a team."

"Yes, you do," Kate's ghost insisted right back. "You have a team, even if it doesn't say so on paper. You have a job to do. Here. At the NCIS. When you're done here, then you get to see your girls. Either you go to the office right now, or… or I'll have your home phone call Abby's lab right this instant. And you'll be swamped with your friends." Kate had gotten tricky with death. Aunt Katie was sneaky, Kelly had said. Gibbs wondered if Kate had been given some sort of job in the afterlife.

Kate's ghost had blurred to his home phone and dropped it on the counter. She was going to follow through on her threat.

"I'm going!" Gibbs hollered. He didn't want his team in his house right now. "I'm going," he repeated softer. "Are you happy now?"

Kate crossed her arms. "Almost. Just make sure you don't take any detours. Remember that I'm watching you."

Gibbs huffed and then softened for a moment. "What about my girls? Are they watching me too?"

Kate rolled her eyes. "Of course. Now get out of here. Do your job that Kelly is so proud of. She hates to see you mope."

Gibbs grabbed the keys to his spare car and walked out the door. Kate slammed it shut behind him, but the action made him smirk. It was time to deal with the living. He would deal with the dead soon enough.