"What Had To Be Done"
The courtroom was filled nearly to the brim with spectators, media personnel, military personnel, and representatives from each and every party involved or connected in any way to the case in question on this particular day. The room, itself, was dimly lit even though, outside, the sun was high in the sky and clearly visible through the unblocked windows; and only a few of the overhead lights in the room had actually been switched on "why this was so is a question that still remains, as of yet, unanswered. There was also a certain air of excitement and nervousness that seemed to hang over everyone inside "spreading from one corner and outward to all others like a very contagious virus.
To anyone who might get the chance to take a quick glance around the room it would immediately become more than obvious that whatever was going on was certainly of great consequence and importance.
The all-too-familiar faces of the crack-team of NCIS Special Agents and Investigators filled the foremost front seats of the auditorium-esque courtroom "except the first seat of the first row, which had purposely been left vacant.
NCIS Special Agent Anthony 'Tony' DiNozzo sat in the second seat down looking somewhat worse-for-wear; but given the most recent events that had taken place within the agency "this was expected. He shifted nervously in his seat, his movements encumbered by the cast and sling that he wore across his right arm and the neck brace that he was forced to wear "temporarily of course "while his body continued to heal itself from the injuries it had sustained. At least his black eye was clearing up nicely.
"Stupid-" Tony muttered under his breath, out of frustration, as he twisted his body back to its previous position to alleviate the sharp pain now shooting up the length of his spine.
Most positions were not comfortable, he had learned, especially in his current condition; but staying in one, constant, position for prolonged periods of time was even more uncomfortable "at least for him anyway.
Timothy McGee, NCIS Special Agent and Computer/Electronics Forensics Expert, was the next in line. The younger man shot his co-worker and partner an aggravated look out of the corner of his eye. At first glance, Tim McGee, did not appear to have lost any of his youthful "and somewhat boyish "look; but if one were to look just ever so closely then one would surely notice that with the passing years some edges become rougher than others. And as with everyone else involved the past few weeks had taken its toll on him as well.
"Would you stop that," McGee whispered forcefully to Tony. "You're gonna hurt yourself worse if you keep up like that."
Tony rolled his eyes distastefully at McGee. "Worse!" Tony spat out in a hushed voice. "Look at me McGee. How could things possibly get any worse "Than This!"
As the words left his mouth Tony's eyes wandered past McGee and down two more seats where they fell upon a silent, and somber-looking Ziva David. Ziva had not been quite herself in quite some time, and it showed outwardly.
The last two years, for Ziva, had overall been rather eventful. She had passed her citizenship test, and became an official United States Citizen "an accomplishment which she was very proud of. The next momentous event for the former-Mossad Officer-turned-NCIS Special Agent was her relationship with her partner Anthony DiNozzo. It had taken quite some time for the pair to actually come clean about their feelings for each other, but once they finally did they found themselves much happier than they had been before.
The hardest part of the two of them being together, at least for a while anyway, was keeping their relationship a secret from Gibbs and Vance "which did not last too long "thankfully though the ramifications of their actions were not too severe. But the biggest, and by far, most traumatizing event of the past two years or so was the main focus of the case that was to be argued in that courtroom.
Gibbs and his team had seen the better part of an entire year devoted to one assignment in particular "an assignment that pushed nearly every boundary both professionally within the agency, and also personally for most of those who had an active role throughout the course of the long-winded investigation.
Between Ziva and McGee sat NCIS' star Forensics Expert Abigail 'Abby' Scuito. Abby had been sharing her rather small place with Ziva for the last little while both because she cared immensely for her friend, and also as a personal favor to her silver-haired boss. Right now, though, Abby was just a trifle unhappy. This was due, in big part, to the fact that she had to wear a hideous, light-blue blazer, blouse, and skirt combo, which she utterly hated with a red-hot passion "not too mention the hideous and vastly uncomfortable high heels she was forced to wear along with the 'outfit'.
"This whole fiasco is nothing but poppycock." Ducky muttered in a hushed voice from where he sat just to the right of Ziva.
The aging Medical Examiner was the last one of the group sitting on the very front row. His demeanor at present was one that was shared by pretty much everyone else on the team. In a just world the second empty seat, located just to the left of Ducky, would be filled, as would the first vacant seat at the head of the row; but, alas, to Ducky the world was, at least in this particular moment, anything but 'Just'.
"Alas, poor Jimmy," Ducky murmured, almost lovingly, in the direction of the empty seat to his left. "You should be here…at my side…just like always."
The Bailiff appeared at the front of the courtroom near the judges' bench and stood at attention for a few seconds. The room began to steadily grow quieter and quieter with the passing seconds.
"All Rise!" the Bailiff bellowed over the still somewhat noisy crowd of people standing and sitting throughout the large room. "The Honorable, Judge Louis Russo Presiding!"
Everyone stood, almost in unison, as a sudden hush quickly ran from on end of the room all the way to the other. A door just to the side of the bench opened and the presiding judge stepped out and nodded towards the bailiff.
"Thank you," Judge Russo said, with a kind nod, as he took his seat at the bench. "Please be seated."
Everyone in the room, once again, responded in unison retaking their seats as one in a single, fluid motion. The moment both anticipated and dreaded by everyone in the room had finally arrived.
"Bailiff, please bring out the accused." Judge Russo said quietly to the bailiff.
The Bailiff turned and flashed a signal to the other side of the courtroom, and within mere moments the doors opened up, and two armed guards led the 'guest of honor' into the room "guiding him as if he were a blind man "towards the front of the room to the table marked for the Defense.
"There he is." Abby exclaimed, in a hushed voice, to her colleagues. She was both excited to finally see this man once again "after so long "and also a little bit afraid for him at the same time.
It had been at least a week or so since any of them had actually laid eyes on him, and compared to their last meeting he looked really well 'all things considered'. He wore one of his traditional gray suits, and a nice pair of loafers as well. Also, this time he was clean-shaven, and his silvery hair was nicely trimmed back to its original, old, loveable self.
It seemed so strange to everyone, well at least those who knew him anyway, to see him of all people in this position.
"Leroy Jethro Gibbs." Judge Russo read his name off of the file of papers in front of him. The way he said Gibbs' name sent chills through every member of the team. The Judge actually made it sound as though Gibbs really was a criminal. "You hereby stand accused of 2 counts of murder, theft of private and government property, and among other things-treason."
Gibbs stood completely still at his place behind the Defense desk/table listening to the list of charges that he had managed to rack up during the course of the last few weeks or so. He did not flinch "not once "he took everything at face value and accepted it for what it was.
"How do you plea?"
"Well, your Honor I-" Gibbs started to say.
"Not Guilty." The attractive female defense attorney said, as she stood firmly by Gibbs' side.
Gibbs turned to face his attorney, which he had reluctantly agreed to, and gave her a look of somewhat irritation. "Margaret. I thought we talked about this." Gibbs said in a hushed whisper. Indeed he and Margaret Allison Hart, his attorney, had had this discussion twice before, and with no clear winner either time.
"Do not expect me to just watch you hang yourself, Jethro." Margaret snapped at the silver-haired man that she had shared the last few years of her life with. The rest of the conversation was spent in hushed, inaudible whispers which finally culminated in Gibbs nodding his head at her "albeit reluctantly.
"Ahem." Judge Russo cleared his throat rather loudly.
Both Gibbs and Margaret turned back to face the Judge once again. "Sorry your Honor." They both said apologetically.
"Well?" Judge Russo asked, somewhat impatiently.
Gibbs shook his head, slightly, and then nodded at Margaret. "What she said." He said in sort of a mumbled voice.
Judge Russo stared at him for a moment, then gave a nod, and then gave the signal for Gibbs and his 'attorney' to be seated. "Alright. Now onto opening arguments "Ms. Hart if you would start us off." Judge Russo said, as he pulled out a pair of reading glasses and placed them atop his nose.
Margaret stood up, walked around the table, and then turned "just in front of the bench "to face her 'audience'. "My client is here today, not because he's accused of being a criminal; but because he is accused of doing what he believed was right. He's here because he did what he believed was his sworn duty "not just to his country, but to his fellow man."
Gibbs listened to Margaret ramble on and on with her opening argument all the while knowing, in his gut at the very least, that nothing that she could do what make a bit of difference here today.
He also knew that any one of his (former) team members would willingly give up their lives to save his from its inevitable fate; but this was how it needed "no how it had to be. Besides he wouldn't do anything any differently even if he could.
No, something else was pulling at his heartstrings at this moment in time in particularly. Would his team be able to understand why he did all of the things that he did?
So far, for the team anyway, the opening statement made by the prosecution stung the most, and by far blew everything way out of proportion. They all sat uncomfortably and nervously in their seats listening and watching, watching and listening to every word that was said and every gesture that was made. It was heart-wrenching to hear a complete stranger painting this hideous picture of a man that they all had the utmost respect for, and to have him turned into some sort of soulless monster right before their very eyes.
"In order to give the jury members a feel for what this case is really all about "the prosecution has had this recording prepared as an opener." The prosecutor said, as he held up a cassette tape in his right hand for everyone to see.
"With your Honor's permission of course."
"You may proceed, Counselor." Judge Russo said with a nod, giving the prosecutor the go ahead.
The Prosecutor nodded to the Judge, and then turned his back on him. He slid the cassette tape into a tape player setting in front of him on his own desk/table, and then pressed the play button.
A few seconds passed before Gibbs' voice was actually heard coming from the tape player, and it came through loud and clear. It only took a few minutes for the tape to play out in its entirety, but every minute was agonizing for the NCIS team members.
Tony leaned forward, slightly, extended his good arm and tapped Margaret Hart lightly on the shoulder. This wasn't right. If this was all the jury or anyone else for that matter heard then there was absolutely no way that Gibbs would get off with anything less than the death penalty.
"When do we get to tell our sides of the story?" Tony asked, somewhat agitated. His arm, neck, back, and pretty much everything else seethed with unimaginable pain. Sure he could take the pain pills that his doctor had prescribed; but what was the point he often thought to himself.
"In time." Margaret whispered back over her shoulder in a hushed voice.
The recording finally ended, and the prosecutor stood picked up the tape player and stowed it away for the time being.
"Now I'm sure that once you, the members of the jury, have heard the rest of the evidence you will find it impossible to render any verdict other than 'Guilty'." the prosecutor's voice droned on and on it seemed-like forever-to Abby Scuito.
"Its not true." Abby whispered under her breath at the words coming from this horrible man's mouth. "None of that is true."
Once the lines had been drawn in the sand, so many tumultuous weeks ago, Abby had made it abundantly clear where her loyalties were rooted. This had caused a bit of a rift between her and NCIS Director Leon Vance in the ensuing chaos; but there was no swaying the Goth Forensic Specialist in any other direction.
She had even gone out of her way to help Gibbs even after he explicitly explained to her why doing so was a very bad idea. She felt like she owed Gibbs so much, and now she was willing and determined to everything in her power to save his life just as he had done so many times before for her.
The prosecutor finally finished giving the last of his speech, and turned to return to his own seat; but as he did so he made an extra effort to pass close by the Defense table on his way.
"May as well give up now, Counselor." Prosecutor Mace Franklin said with a bit of a smirk, as he passed within mere feet of the Defense table.
"Fat chance." Margaret replied, through her teeth.
"Margaret please." Gibbs whispered quietly as she rose to her feet. "Don't do this."
Margaret's face was stilled and calm, but her eyes betrayed everything that was going on inside her-deep down inside her heart; but she could not let that interfere with her doing her very best today.
"Your Honor-The Defense calls NCIS Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo to the stand." she said calmly and clearly.
"Agent DiNozzo, would you please-in your own words-describe the events leading up to your 'being incapacitated'?"
"Yes ma'am." Tony replied quietly, his eyes already flickering with the intensity of the haunting memories he was now having to recall.
Tony eyed his team mates and then his boss, cleared his throat, and began his tale. Though dredging up the memories was painful enough in its own right, it was even worse knowing that something he could say might free or doom Gibbs forever. "It started two months ago-just after Admiral Joseph Rucker was found dead in his home-NCIS was called in to head the investigation..."
Tony trailed off a bit, staring down into his boss' steely blue eyes for a moment-as if searching for something...a sign perhaps. He knew that what would come next might throw some people for quite a loop, even though it was the honest to goodness truth-but he just could not be sure how it would be recieved.
Gibbs nodded at his (former) Senior Field Agent knowingly. "Its alright...just tell the truth." he thought to himself as if Tony might be able to somehow hear what he was thinking.
Tony once again picked up where he had trailed off, and Gibbs listened intently all the while remembering the events just as they had unfolded-more or less like one of Tony's film scenarios which he was accustomed to talking about more than just frequently while on the job. "...and, though appearances suggested no more than death by 'Natural Cause', Gi-err-A-Agent Gibbs' 'Gut' suggested 'Foul Play'..."
The door to Director Vance's office slammed shut as Gibbs exited it and made his way back in the direction of the squad room. He had already been in somewhat of a foul mood when he came in this morning, and Vance wasn't going to make things any better-at least not right now anyway.
Gibbs heard Vance's secretary say something-what he wasn't sure, because he wasn't paying much attention to her-but in response all he could manage was a low growl under his breath.
"Boss." Tony greeted Gibbs a few minutes later as the silver-haired Senior Agent rounded the corner into the bullpen. "How was your meeting with Vance?" the younger man asked, as a follow-up to his greeting. That's Tony for you-inquisitive as always, and always interested in everyone elses business.
"Uh, judging from the look on his face, Tony-probably not good." McGee said from where he sat just right across from Tony.
"You're probably right." Tony whispered back across the bullpen, leaning to the side so that McGee could hear him.
Gibbs plopped down into the chair behind his desk swearing under his breath as he did so in such a way that would make any man of any size or shape tremble with fear on the spot. "What was that DiNozzo?" Gibbs snapped from his seat.
"Uh, uh-n-nothing Boss." Tony stammered nervously trying to cover himself. "McGee and I were jus-just..." Tony stopped mid-sentence and true to his nature his DiNozzo-ish sense of humor showed its true colors. "I told you we weren't supposed to pass notes in class Tim!" Tony said suddenly, with a childish smirk.
McGee rolled his eyes at Tony, but did not respond to the older man's remarks.
"So, does that mean we're off the case or what?" Ziva asked, from behind her desk. In just the last year or so she had completely given her entire work space a makeover-with a little help from Abby of course-because she felt that doing so would better reflect the fact that she was now officially a proud citizen of the United States of America.
"Nope." Gibbs replied, without looking up from the stack of papers that sat in front of him on his desktop. "McGee, I still want those-" he started to say, but was cut short McGee before he could go any further with his demands.
"Got'em right here Boss." McGee said, interrupting Gibbs, as he stood up behind his desk with a file folder or so's worth of papers and such. "Bank records, phone records, credit card statements, cell phone records-its all here." he said as he stepped up to Gibbs' desk and handed his boss the file folder. "I even ran a back-ground check on the Admiral." the younger agent said with a smile.
Ziva was the next one to approach Gibbs' desk, and she too handed him a similar-looking file folder. "Here. Admiral Rucker's personal records, service records, deployment history, etc." she said as she stood in place beside McGee.
"And, as usual, we save the best for last." Tony said, not moving from his own desk across the bullpen.
"Yeah right." McGee said, with a smirk, to Ziva as he rolled his own eyes once again.
"Ignoring that." Tony said in response. "I made a few phone calls to-well here and there-and I managed to track down a very...interesting...young man." Tony explained, with a huge grin. "Should be here at 8:00 sharp tomorrow morning-says he's got something really important to talk to us about."
Gibbs just sat behind his desk in complete silence for a minute or so before he even thought to speak up again. "Nice work." He would have said more, but just at that very moment his desk phone rang.
Gibbs answered his phone on the second ring, listened to the voice on the other end talk for a minute or so, and then he hung up. He stood up, removed his reading glasses and stowed them away in his coat pocket as he made his way out from around his desk.
"Going somewhere Boss?" McGee asked, innocently as Gibbs turned the corner and headed for the elevator.
"Yep." was all Gibbs said.
"Wh-?" Tony started to ask.
"To get a Caf-Pow." Gibbs said before Tony could go any further.
-END OF Tony's FLASHBACK-
Prosecutor Mace Franklin stepped closer to the stand, and locked his eyes onto the fierce green eyes of Forensic Specialist Abby Scuito. Time had passed, and the questioning had moved onto Abby now.
"So 'Agent Gibbs' came down to see you-in your lab?" Prosecutor Mace Franklin asked the Goth scientist coldly.
"Well yeah, b-" Abby started to reply.
"Good. Now could you, Ms. Scuito, tell us all what you remember from that afternoon down in your lab?"
"Sure." Abby said, nervously eying Gibbs and the others as she began to tell what she knew. "Gibbs appeared, as he always did, like a super-stealthy ninja assassin." she began. "He also brought me a Caf-Pow-he usually does that too..."
-Abby's FlashBack #1-
"Caf-Pow." a familiar voice said from behind where Abby was standing at her workstation. She knew that voice all to well, and it always made her extremely happy to hear it.
Abby spun around and found herself face-to-face with the man that she often referred to as the 'Silver-Haired Fox'-and he had brought her a Caf-Pow. "Gibbs!" Abby exclaimed. "Oh, and a Caf-Pow, for me?" she said, flicking her wrist and turning her head away slightly as if she were blushing, but did not want him to see.
"Whatcha got Abs?" Gibbs asked, as he handed over the large beverage cup to the Goth Forensic Specialist.
Abby took the Caf-Pow from her boss, took a big gulp of the red liquid inside, and then turned back to her workstation. "Well, I've still got some samples running through Major Mass Spec., so we'll have to wait for those results-but I did find something 'hinky' when I ran the 'Tox-Panel' on the blood sample that Ducky sent me."
"Hinky?" Gibbs asked, arching an eyebrow as he leaned in closer to Abby's computer monitor as she continued to punch keys across the keyboard quite feverishly.
"Yeah. Take a look for yourself." she offered as she pulled up the results from the 'Tox-Panel' onto the computer screen.
Gibbs' stared at the tox results now displayed across Abby's computer screen for a moment in silence, squinting a couple of times at the screen. "I need my glasses." Gibbs mumbled, as he reached his hands into his coat pocket.
Abby blew out a sigh at her silver-haired boss. "Gibbs. Its right here." Abby said, pointing a figure at the computer screen. "Its 'Cicutoxin'." she added.
"Hinky." Gibbs repeated, with a half-grin as he pulled his hands back out of his coat pocket leaving his glasses where they were.
"Yeah. It's a deadly poison found in the roots of-" she started to explain to her boss.
"Water Hemlock." Gibbs said, interrupting Abby's train of thought.
"Yeah-how did you-?"
"Marine survival training." he explained. "We had to learn what was edible and what wasn't." he added.
"Oh. Well, I guess that makes sense." Abby said, shaking her head. "Anyway-After I found that, I tested for traces of the toxin on many of the various articles that were collected from the crime scene-"
"And?" Gibbs asked, as he watched Abby walk from the workstation over to her work table where he saw that there was stuff just laying out everywhere across the entire surface of the table.
"And-," Abby said, repeating Gibbs' own impatient words. "I found this." she added, holding up a plastic evidence bag that held a Snifter glass. "Whoever killed Admiral Rucker-did it by spiking his Cognac." she explained.
"Not exactly original." Gibbs said, more to himself than to Abby.
"I know right." Abby replied in agreement.
"Anything else?" Gibbs asked, as he took a step back from the workstation. This visit to Abby's lab was turning out to be very 'enlightening' for him.
"Um, oh yeah." Abby said, suddenly remembering the other thing that she was going to show Gibbs. "There's always more Gibbs," Abby said with a devilish smile as she began punching away at the keyboard once again.
"Put it up on the plasma." Gibbs said, as he walked around to where he could see the big plasma screen mounted high on the wall in Abby's lab.
"Your wish...is my command." she replied, as she clicked on her mouse, and an image flashed up onto the big plasma viewing screen.
Gibbs stared at the image displayed right in front of him on the screen for a few long seconds, before Abby finally spoke up once again.
"Know what it is Gibbs?" Abby asked, a slight air of excitement in her voice as she spoke.
"No, but I have a feeling you're gonna tell me." he replied in that Gibbs-ish way of his.
"Its Cigar residue Gibbs." Abby continued somewhat excitedly. "And before you ask-I already did." she added. "I ran a sample of the residue through the Mass Spec. earlier-you know before everything else went in-and I was able to narrow down our pool to something a little more specific, and a little less legal. It's-"
"Cuban." Gibbs said, really guessing more than anything else.
"Whoa," Abby said, throwing her hands up-apparently impressed by her silver-haired boss yet again. "How DO you do that?" she asked aloud excitedly. "That's it-now I'm sure your like psychic or...something."
Gibbs turned and began to walk back in the direction of Abby and the door. "So our killer smokes Cuban Cigars, and has access to a poison drawn from Water Hemlock." Gibbs said, summing up everything that Abby had just told him. "Nice work Abs." he added, as he stopped and planted a gentle kiss on her cheek.
Gibbs headed for the door, but then stopped and turned back around right as he started to actually pass through the doorway. "Oh almost forgot. You got plans tonight?' Gibbs asked, rather unexpectedly.
"No. Why?" Abby asked, slightly confused.
"Good-You're coming with me. I need a date for that big Gala-thing tonight." Gibbs explained.
"Aren't you dating that lawyer lady?" Abby asked, still slightly confused.
"Yeah. She's working on some really important case right now." Gibbs explained.
"Okay, sure." Abby replied. "I'll go-what should I wear?" she asked.
"Doesn't matter-just don't wanna be alone with all those baby-kissing bureaucrats and politicians." Gibbs said, with a smirk, just before he turned around and headed back out the door.
Abby couldn't help but smile at her silver-haired boss as he walked away. Good old Jethro Gibbs-never failed with that one-of-a-kind sense of humor of is. "So be it," Abby thought to herself. "I shall go forth and protect Gibbs from the bad people." she laughed at herself for thinking such childish thoughts, but she was Abby Scuito-she just couldn't help herself.