That Empty Feeling of Being Full
AN: This story requires some explanation. As it turns out, I tend to like to write stories that people wouldn't chose to read at first glance; the supernatural genre, for one. Though, if you chose not to read this story, you will be missing out. This story is much the same. First of all, only three canon characters show up, in context anyway. Secondly, most of the cast of this story are of my own creation. I like them; however, you are entitled to your own opinion. If you haven't been deterred already, then I will give a few details that you need to know beforehand, and then we will get to the main feature.
The setting is about ten years into the future. McGee is the main character. He now has his own team, consisting of three new characters, and he sits in Gibbs' old desk. Ziva also has her own team, consisting of three new characters, one of which is added at the beginning of the story, and they are situated in the space that E.J.'s team resided, for however short a period. Now this is the sad part, but don't fret, by the end, I hope to work you through it; both Gibbs and Ducky have died years prior to the beginning of this story. Tony and Abby have moved on and moved away. Palmer is still around as the resident M.E.
Also, I named the chapters after songs which I think are appropriate. If you chose to listen to them while reading, it may enhance the experience, but it is not necessary.
This story is about learning how to let go of the past and embrace the here and now; for, really, what else do we really have.
Chapter One: Zombie
You can't hold onto the past forever
But the past can hold onto you as long as it wants to.
McGee had a feeling that Ziva was about to lose it. It was her third probie in a month. The director had recently decided that it was time for her to have a fourth person on her team and had been assigning them like wildfire. The first two had only lasted a week before being scared off—the second one had actually cried. McGee had never imagined that he would see the day when a former Marine, almost twice Ziva's size would shed tears. But Ziva had never been good with new people.
McGee sat at his desk with his hands behind his head, trying not to laugh as Ziva threatened the new kid with her letter opener. Angela DeLuca—a.k.a. Angel—was not as good at holding in a snicker. She sat on the shelf beside him twirling a pencil between her fingers. Ziva turned around and narrowed her eyes at Angel from where she stood by the windows. McGee reached up and gave his Senior Field Agent a hard headslap.
"Sorry, Boss," she said, rubbing at the back of her head.
"What part of 'don't apologize' do you still not understand?" he said, giving her an exasperated look.
"Right. Won't happen again."
"You're damn straight. Don't you have paperwork to do?"
"Finished it last night." She scratched her nose with the tip of the pencil.
McGee narrowed his eyes. "I thought you went home before I did?"
"I did. Couldn't sleep."
"Uh huh." McGee turned to his computer, giving Ziva one last glance. She appeared to have calmed down slightly, the brand new addition to her team apparently having come to his senses and apologized for calling her ma'am.
After a minute, McGee turned back to angel. "Hey," he said forcefully.
"Yeah, Boss?" she smiled.
She jumped up quickly and went back to her desk—right where McGee used to sit and Tony before him. "Have you heard from Matt or Shauna?" Angel called.
McGee didn't look up. "They still have twenty minutes."
"Sure, sure," she said, putting her feet up on the desk.
McGee glared at her until they fell back to the floor and her hands went to the keyboard. He sighed and ran his hand thought his hair. Even after eight years with Angel, she was still a pain in the ass. The higher up in the ranks she got, the more obnoxious she became. An ex-Sacramento cop, she joined NCIS for the guns and the babes—as in girl babes. At first, Tony thought it was hot, but he soon figured out that she was just more competition for him to deal with. Gibbs, of course, thought it was hilarious, and that was one of the reasons he assigned her to his team.
It was two years after that that Gibbs took a bullet to the chest. It was nothing like the movies, there was no hail of gunfire, no slow-motion exchange of bullets, just some stupid kid who didn't know when to back down. He bled out very quickly—there was no time to say goodbye. That day had haunted McGee for years after the fact. It wasn't long after that that Ducky went, leaving Palmer with his title and a broken heart. At least he went peacefully.
A loud slap brought McGee out of his reverie. He looked up to see that Angel had wandered off near the elevators. She was trying to look hurt as Maxine Forrester, junior agent on Ziva's team, stalked over to her desk, shaking her dark hair, which went perfectly with her dark Native American skin, in frustration.
Ziva was nowhere to be found, thank God. The first and last time Angel had tried to hit on her resulted in a broken rib and a bruised ego. McGee stood up and pointed to Angel's desk. She bowed her head and lumbered back over.
Right at that moment, the elevator dinged and a tall woman with long red hair in a high ponytail and cowboy boots stepped out of the elevator. If looks could kill…. Sarah Winchester, another of Ziva's team, she looked scary happy, as usual. She waved to McGee as he sat back down and went over to place her backpack on the ground in the area on the other side of the wall behind McGee, where E. J. Barret's team used to reside, and let her curls out of the band.
"Hey, Max. What's wrong?" she asked her coworker with that Texan twang of hers when she saw her seething in front of her computer.
"Angel," she said, angrily, giving said agent a glare of death.
Angel, at least, had the common decency not to look up.
McGee rolled his eyes and focused back on his computer, when his phone rang. "McGee," he answered. Dispatch gave him a location. "I'll be right there." He hung up.
"Dead Petty Officer at Rock Creek Park. Call Shauna and Matt. I'm not gonna wait long."
Angel was tripping over herself from the second his phone hit the base. She pulled out her cell and hit the speed dial while hightailing it to the elevator. McGee took his time, and went for the stairs instead. He smiled at Ziva as she walked past him with the new kid.
"Grab your gear!" he heard her yell as he opened the door to the stairs, followed by shuffling and a loud "Umph!" likely as something was shoved into the probie's stomach. Maxine had clearly found a way to take out her anger on Angel.
McGee smiled as he descended. He wondered if this one could hack it better than his predecessors. Ziva had had the same team all eight years after she left, and the director seemed to think that it would fun to change it up. Director Matthews had a thing about fun. In a team of only women, every single one of the new additions had been men.
His team was already assembled beside a crime scene van. Angel and Matt Jericho—an ex-CIA operative who specialized in Afghanistan, added to the team when Gibbs passed—were making a bet on how long the Probie would make it before he cried: two hours or three hours. Shauna St. Clair was smiling at them as she loaded their bags into the back of the van.
McGee crept up on them and stated suddenly, "Save it for the ride home."
Shauna jumped and Angel grinned. "In the back, Probie!"
Matt rolled his eyes and climbed into the far side followed by Angel and then McGee.
"You know, it wouldn't kill you to let me sit up there just once," Shauna called from the back.
"Yeah, but you'd feel really bad if it did."
The drive was fairly uneventful. Angel and Matt bickered, as usual, and only a couple of bruises were acquired on Shauna's part when McGee had to stop short at a street light and once on a tight curve that he took too fast.
It gave McGee some time to drift off in thought. It was two years after Gibbs and Ducky passed that Ziva requested her team be reassigned back to D.C. when she was given custody of her newly orphaned thirteen-year-old nephew, Natanael—her cousin's child. She wanted him to have a stable life, and Paris wasn't stable. Natanael didn't speak for three months after she brought him back, having witnessed his parents' deaths. He'd had problems, but the now seventeen-year-old was happy and prepping to go to college. He had more opportunities here than in Israel, and Ziva was happy for him. She loved him like her own, even though they had only met once before the tragedy.
It was three years before now, however, that the most unexpected thing had happened. Both Tony and Abby decided to go for someone their own age, and eloped in Vegas. Everyone was shocked when they came back with matching black diamond rings on their fingers and tattoos of each other's names. They just suddenly realized that they were exactly what the other needed. Someone who liked what they did, with equally spontaneous natures. Apparently, according to them, that was what love was. They were both nearing fifty and wanted something familiar. They went to Hawaii on their honeymoon and wound up staying. They got themselves transferred to the NCIS office at Pearl Harbor, leaving McGee to take care of Angel and Matt as team leader.
McGee's attention had to go back to the road when he started to hit cops with handheld stop signs and barricades. He showed his badge and rolled up to the new crime scene. They all got out of the truck and McGee strode to the yellow tape, leaving his team to get the equipment.
Palmer was already there. He and Tony had been shocked to learn that it really was Ducky who was bad at directions. "Hey, Tim," he called, raising his hand as he got out of his own truck. He normally didn't come alone, but his assistant had recently quit and he was still looking for a replacement. "I'll just get the body and go. Ziva's got one on the other side of the park."
"Really?" McGee asked as they met by the crime scene tape.
"Yeah," Palmer held up the tape for McGee, but dropped it right in front of Angel's face. "Weird, huh?"
"But you don't believe in coincidences, do you, Boss?" Angel said, coming up behind them camera in hand.
He looked around; the body was lying on the ground, curled inward. Her dark brown hair was clogged with dirt and leaves. She had obviously been there a while. Her face and arms were also covered in grime and there were rips in the tight jeans that she wore, along with the low cut top. Party clothes, but they looked like they had been worn for a couple of days before she died.
Angel took a few photographs from different angles and then Palmer turned the girl on her back. "She's way past rigor mortis," he said. He pulled out his liver probe. "More than a day, but less than a week. Might have been here the whole time, but nobody noticed her." He pointed at her neck, where two distinct purple handprints were visible. "Looks like she was strangled."
Matt and Shauna showed up as Palmer went to insert the probe. He paused. "What is it, Doctor?" Matt asked.
Palmer lifted the shirt completely off the victim's stomach and Shauna gasped. Right above her belly button, was a small cross carved into the flesh. Angel snapped another picture.
"Let me see that memory card," McGee said, holding out his hand to her. Angel gave it to him and he inserted it into his phone.
"What are you doing?" Shauna asked.
McGee was still trying to shake the feeling of dread that had come over him. "Asking Ziva if she has the same thing at her crime scene." He typed 'look familiar?' into the text box and hit sent just as Palmer pulled out the liver probe.
"Three days," he declared. "Give or take a couple of hours."
McGee nodded. "St. Clair."
"Yes," Shauna answered.
"Help the doctor with the burrito wrap and when you're done, start collecting evidence around here." He pointed to the area around the body. She nodded and ran off. "Matt,"
"Canvas the scene," he said, nodding his head.
"I want to know who's been here."
"Sketch and take some more photos."
McGee nodded. "And then help Matt after you talk to the witnesses." He handed back her memory card.
"You got it, Bossman."
It was then that McGee's phone rang. Ziva. "Yeah?"
"I think we have a problem."
AN: Slip me a line, if you liked it.