A/N: For the record, this was posted about an hour before "Life Before His Eyes" aired. I have not yet seen it and am beyond excited! But I'm nervous too, I want them to get it right. Frankly, I want it to be perfect.
Too bad Lauren Holly won't be in it... That would make my YEAR, man.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy my speculations/storytelling.
It's not the best stuff I've written, but I needed to get all the "what ifs" down before I watch the actual episode in 52 MINUTES!
PS: I didn't finish the last scene because I couldn't possibly even begin to write that AWESOME moment... And I'm sure it will be awesome. After all, MUSE WATSON/AKA: MIKE FRANKS will be in it!
PPS: The Italics are the alternate reality/dream-state that Gibbs is experiencing.
DISLCAIMER: I don't own NCIS. If I did, the 200th episode would probably end up really depressing.. If you want to know what I'm talking about, then read this story!
When he first saw the gun, his first thought was of Jenny. After all, the similarities were uncanny. She had been gunned down in a diner, albeit an abandoned one, and now, so too would he.
He tried to talk him down, but to no avail. The masked gunman could not be swayed from his path. Gibbs thought the only good that could come out of this was that his would be the only life to be ended. No one else would perish, because of him, and he could live with that. Or rather, he could die happy with that knowledge.
When the gun went off, Gibbs didn't move out of the bullet's path. He stayed put, but this time, there was no one there to jump in front of him. There was no one willing to die for him, and for that, he was grateful. Too many lives had been cut short because of him, and every one of those lives could have been saved.
And so, when the bullet tore through Gibbs' unprotected chest, he wasn't thinking about his own life. He was thinking about a fierce, redheaded director who had long since fallen, and a loyal, former Secret Service agent who had died because of him. He thought it fitting to meet the same fate that they, and many others he had known, had suffered.
His last conscious thought was, It could have been different.
Leroy Jethro Gibbs awoke in his bed to find a warm presence lying next to him. His surprise registered before the familiarity of the sleeping figure. At first, he couldn't place her. The dream he had just woken from was still fresh in his mind, and it encompassed his entire being in that moment. He couldn't escape it. It was as if twenty years had gone by while he slept. And the dream... the dream had felt so real. He shook it off; it was just a dream, albeit very realistic, and quite frankly, frightening.
Then, a sleepy voice broke through his thoughts, "Are you okay, Jethro?"
It all came rushing back then. Shannon, his wife, was speaking to him. It was 0600 and Kelly, his daughter, was asleep in the room next door. He smiled at her, placing a kiss on her forehead, and whispered, "Of course. I was just thinking about what I want to do next, now that I've been discharged."
Shannon grinned, "And what would that be?"
He grinned right back at her, though his heart ached for some, unexplainable reason. He stared at his beautiful wife, feeling the need to memorize her every feature. Her long, red hair. Her laughing eyes. The curve of her hip under the blankets. And the wondrous smile that graced her face; the smile he felt like he hadn't seen in years.
"I was thinking I'd build a boat."
Ducky flinched at the loud, raspy voice that intruded upon his silent observation of the body on the table. He sighed, turning to face his visitor slowly. "Yes?"
"I was just wonderin' watcha got for me," Special Agent Mike Franks asked, fiddling absentmindedly with an unlit cigarette.
"Nothing as of yet," Ducky replied wearily.
"Alright then... Hey, ain't you gettin' close to retirement now, Duck?" Franks asked conversationally, seeming to be in no hurry to be anywhere else. He was content to sit and talk with Ducky for now, more so than returning to the squadroom, and the bureaucracy that lay within.
"Aren't you?" The coroner countered. Honestly, Ducky really was curious about this. Franks was far past his prime for field duty, but had never once mentioned retirement before this point. Never, in all the years Ducky had known him, had this topic ever been even mentioned.
"Believe me, Doc, I would if I could," Franks said a bit wistfully. "But none a them probies up there got what it takes to lead my team."
"I'm sure one of them would be suitable," Ducky said. "Perhaps Agent Ramirez? He certainly has the experience."
"Nah," Franks waved off the suggestion. "Kid's too self-confident. An overinflated ego."
"Well," Ducky paused, thinking it over, "what about Agent Richards? He isn't too con-"
"I've already thought 'bout this, Duck," Franks told him. "None of them kids fit the bill."
"Then," Ducky said, "let's drop the matter, shall we? I'm sure you will find the 'perfect' agent eventually." The only response Ducky got to this was a noncommittal grunt of acknowledgement. "In any case, if you could retire, where would you go?"
Franks, on his way out the door, turned around for a moment, and told him, "Mexico seems pretty damn good right now."
"Hey... Hey! Joey!" Abigail Scuito called out across the parking lot. She was attempting to chase down the man named Joey, who was currently hauling out boxes of her stuff from her former lab. "What do you think you're doing?"
"Uh-um," Joey stuttered, surprised by the appearance of the Goth forensic specialist. "Director Morrow told me to bring your things out to your car. He said it was the least we could do after what happened."
Abby's eyes narrowed, and she adjusted her position on her crutches. Damn right it was the least he could do. He had refused to allow her to investigate the case concerning her psychotic ex-boyfriend, and because of that, she had been kidnapped and held captive for a week before NCIS finally tracked him down. If she had just been allowed to analyze some of the evidence from the break-in at her apartment, they would have been able to pinpoint the culprit before he had gotten his hands on her. Now, because of the Director's stubbornness and stupidity, she had a multitude of scars and a broken leg as souvenirs from her stay in hell.
"Why would he ask you to do that, Joey?" She questioned suspiciously; the long scar that ran from her temple to the corner of her mouth stretched in an odd way as she frowned. She had a sinking feeling in her gut that the explanation wouldn't be good.
"Um, because you'll be taking the next few weeks off? And he wanted some of your personal items out of the way- I mean, at your disposal, during your... vacation," Joey answered nervously.
"What?" Abby was appalled. Work was all she had. Forensics was her life! How dare Director Morrow take that from her! She needed to be at NCIS, because without it, she was nothing. She had no other purpose in her life. She'd been kicked out of everywhere else, her bosses having gotten irritated with her Goth lifestyle and hyper-active nature.
She supposed it was all just as well that it had ended. When her ex had taken her captive, she had lost all zest for life, for her work. She couldn't look at evidence the same, and she couldn't listen to her music without thinking of him.
"I'm sorry, Abby," Joey said, sounding genuinely apologetic. Abby practically snorted in sarcastic laughter, he was the only one who felt that way. No one else at NCIS cared about her that much, though God knew she had attempted to make friends when she first started working there.
"There's really nothing I can do about it now," Joey continued, shifting from foot to foot uneasily.
Abby just stared at him as tears welled in her eyes. Before her abduction, Abby would have defended herself, her job, but not anymore. She was broken, and no one could fix her. She didn't belong at NCIS anymore, that much was clear. She was unwanted.
Still, even as Abby broke down, she couldn't help a stray thought that invaded her mind: Someone could have done something. Someone could have saved me.
But no one ever did.
Caitlin Todd had lived as normal a life as was possible for a Secret Service agent. She went to work every day, and then she would go home. She never received a promotion, because she had never been given a chance to show her superiors what she was truly capable of. They ignored her, but still she followed their orders and protocol.
As she went to meet one of her superiors for coffee, Kate thought about all the opportunities she had passed up in favor of something better. She had always thought that one day, she would get her chance to shine. She'd thought that maybe, someone would present her with the golden opportunity of her dreams, and then she'd take it.
Her standards had been so high, she hadn't wanted to settle for anything less than she felt she deserved. Her dreams had led her to where she was today, and her hopes and fears kept her there.
Looking back on the last seven years of her life, Kate wished she had taken a chance. She wished she had done something new. Sure, she was a good Secret Service agent, but the work didn't satisfy her the way it used to. She had always been too cautious for her own good; maybe if she had been willing to risk her job, she would have succeeded in another profession.
Maybe life would be more fulfilling that way. Instead, all she felt was empty and hollow inside, as if she were the living dead.
Timothy McGee hadn't had a rough life. Sure, his father, an admiral, was an asshole sometimes, but he was his father. He taught Tim to be the man he was today.
Sometimes, Tim wished he hadn't.
It's not that he was unhappy, oh no. But his work as an engineer just didn't fulfill him. It never had. It wasn't his dream. It was simply where he was expected to be. He was an MIT graduate, after all. Don't those kinds of people always end up somewhere great? Weren't they always the ones to have the best end of the deal that was life?
The answer was yes, people like him had it good. They didn't struggle for a living, and for that, Tim was thankful. Really, he was. Though, he always wished he had followed his own dreams. Maybe, if he had strayed from the beaten path, he would be happy.
Maybe he could have met a girl. A nice one, not one that wanted him for the money he was sure to make. In his imagination, his dream girl would laugh with him, not at him, and they would be each other's closest friend.
Maybe he could have actually made some friends. Lifelong ones, and not ones that turned their back on you the moment they were promoted. He'd wished before, that he had these friends, but it never happened.
Maybe he could have done something important with his life. When he was a boy, he had dreamed of being a hero. Anyone's hero. Sadly, the opportunity had passed him by.
Hell, Tim thought as he trudged through the rain to the door of his apartment building, maybe I could have written a book.
Jenny Shepard unlocked the door of her large home, which had been left to her by her father. As she stepped inside, Jenny sighed as the warmth of the house reached her cold skin. It was raining outside, and it was cold.
She thought it quite fitting.
After all, Jenny Shepard would die on this day.
The dreary atmosphere certainly matched her mood as she walked through the halls. The outside world was bleak, much like her mindset. The disease was catching up with her, that much she knew. She could feel it in the way her body couldn't handle even the lightest jog, and the way her lungs burned after climbing just one set of stairs. It wouldn't be long now.
She had given thought to ending it the way her father did, by putting her own gun to her own head and pulling the trigger. She didn't though, and only because she couldn't stand to be seen as a coward.
She had tried putting herself at risk intentionally, but it never worked out the way she had planned. She had wanted to be shot in the field and die honorably in pursuit of a suspect, but her asshole of a partner had soon caught on. He had stopped all her attempts by forcing her to admit the truth to Director Morrow, who then took her out of the field altogether. Her partner, Agent Jacobs, didn't even do it for her. He did it for himself, having been seeking a reason to be seen as a hero. Much to Jenny's relief though, it didn't happen. The others on the team didn't trust him or respect what he did any more than she did. They saw him for what he was.
Winded and exhausted, Jenny had finally reached her bedroom. She pulled open the door and practically fell onto her bed. As she stared at the ceiling, already falling asleep, she wished she wasn't alone. She didn't want to die all by herself. She wished she had someone, a husband, a boyfriend, even a lover to be there, to lull her into sleep with quiet whispers of happily ever afters.
Even as her eyes drifted shut for the last time, Jenny couldn't shake the thought that somewhere, someone was out there. Someone that could have meant something to her, and vice versa. She longed to have met that person, to have loved and been loved by that person.
Sadly, she hadn't lived long enough to find that someone. Maybe if she had, she wouldn't feel so overwhelmingly lonely all the time. And that was the only consolation to her miserable end: she wouldn't be alone anymore.
With that thought, Jenny fell asleep.
She never woke again.
Tony DiNozzo leaned back in his chair in the squadroom of the Baltimore PD. He closed his eyes and allowed his head to loll back for a moment before he spoke to his partner again.
"I think she did it," he said.
"She's got an alibi, Tony," Danny Price, Tony's partner, reminded him patiently. Of course he was being patient, Danny hadn't been the one interrogating the suspect.
"She still did it," Tony insisted, now leaning forward and making eye contact with the other cop. "You didn't see her eyes, Danny."
"So?" Danny raised an eyebrow.
Tony lowered his voice seriously, "She has a killer's eyes."
"Oh, so now you can tell if someone's guilty just by looking in their eyes?" Danny asked sarcastically.
Tony narrowed his eyes, his already worn patience wearing thinner. He locked eyes with his partner, "They were cold. Empty."
"And that makes her a killer?" Danny said, "You just described most of my ex-girlfriends!"
Tony snorted in amusement, but insisted, "I know, but this chick, this 'Ziva David', is Mossad." Tony hadn't known what Mossad was at first, but as soon as they'd found this woman's connection with them, he'd done some research and asked around a bit. As far as he could tell, Ziva David had been trained to be an assassin.
Danny inclined his head in agreement, a pensive look on his face. "Either way," he said, "she's got an airtight alibi."
"Yeah..." Tony muttered to himself. "'I was with my brother'," Tony repeated Ziva's earlier words, doing his best Israeli accent, which was awful.
A beat of silence passed before either of the two spoke again. "Hey, Danny," Tony said, getting his partner's attention again. "What was the brother's name?"
Danny typed away at his computer for a minute before answering, "Ari Haswari." When Tony opened his mouth to speak again, Danny cut him off, saying, "No, Tony, you can't interrogate him, too. Not tonight."
"Why?" Tony practically whined.
"One," Danny began, ticking off the numbers on his fingers, "the Chief told us not to. Two, they're probably already on a plane back to Israel by now. Three," here Danny paused, letting a smile form on his face, "I bet Wendy wants you back home as soon as possible."
Tony smiled back, though it didn't reach his eyes. "Yeah," he replied, "I bet she does."
He thought of his wife. She was cute, smart, funny. She was everything he'd ever wanted in a woman. Yet, he still found his heart longing for more. There was something inside him, a void in his life, that Wendy hadn't ever been able to fill. Tony was starting to think that the hole would always be there, that it would never be filled.
Then, he had seen her. He wouldn't admit it, but her eyes had played tricks on his mind. Those eyes, which he had just called cold and empty, had ignited something inside of him. They had brought about an ache that Tony had gotten so good at ignoring.
They were still the eyes of a killer, of that Tony was sure. But when he had made direct eye contact with her for the last time before she was freed from custody, he could have sworn he saw some of what he was feeling reflected back at him in her dark brown eyes. Then, as quickly as it had begun, the moment was over.
Tony shook his head to clear his mind. The only woman he should be thinking about was his wife, not a dangerous Israeli woman.
Still, Tony knew the 'could-have-beens' would taunt him in his dreams.
Ziva David would never admit it to anyone, but the cop from Baltimore had gotten under her skin. After she'd been freed, she was still thinking of him.
It wasn't so much what he said as it was his voice. She felt, deep down, that she had heard it before. She couldn't place it, but she swore she knew it from somewhere.
She was so lost in thought that she didn't notice when Ari tried to get her attention. They were hiding out for a few days, confident they would not be found in the safehouse she had set up for them, and Ari was getting bored.
He cocked his head to the side inquisitively, "What is going on inside that clever mind of yours, Ziva?"
She shook her head quickly, and said, "Nothing. I was only wondering how we will tell Abba of our failure to complete the mission."
At that, Ari scowled, "We only failed because you could not go through with it. I did my part, you were the one that became... emotional." His dark eyes were stormy by the end, and Ziva found that the look in her brother's eyes was more startling than she was willing to admit.
However, she still argued in her defense, "That was not a part of the mission. I was not supposed to kill Detective DiNozzo, and I did not."
"You should have!" Ari snarled, "We could have been home by now, and be done with this place. All you had to do was pull the trigger."
Ziva looked away, he was right. All she had needed to do was fire the gun and their problems would be solved. But when she had aimed the gun and prepared to shoot, she had found herself unable to go through with it. She didn't know why, but she had been unable to end Anthony DiNozzo's life.
But, Ziva promised herself, next time would be different. She would not hesitate.
Next time, she would kill Anthony DiNozzo.
Gibbs was just starting to get out of bed, a smile still on his face, when he heard his wife call his name. He turned around, expecting to see her still in bed, but was faced with a different scene entirely.
He was standing in a diner. It was unfamiliar at first, until he thought that maybe, just maybe, he'd been there before. He looked around, searching for his wife, but instead his eyes landed on a man he'd never seen before in his life, but instantly felt a strange connection to.
"Hey, Probie," the man greeted. The name struck a chord within him, but he had no time to ponder it as he had just found Shannon again.
She sat in a booth next to Kelly. They were both smiling warmly, and they beckoned him to join them. He walked over and slid into the booth on the opposite side of the table. He looked at them curiously, his eyes asking them if they knew what was going on.
Shannon reached across the table and laid her hand over his, which had been resting on the tabletop. She had a strange look in her eyes, but her voice was soft and gentle when she said, "We have some people here that would like to say a few things to you."
His brow furrowed in confusion, "Who?"
Kelly giggled and pointed, "Them!"
His eyes followed the direction his daughter was pointing, and he was surprised to see a group of people sitting just a few tables behind him.
There were six of them all seated at a single table. One of them, a woman with black pigtails, flashed him a smile and waved to him.
"Hi, Gibbs," she said, "we all just wanted to say..."