Author's Note: My first kid fic of 2013. Yay! :) I hope you guys like it. This is a WIP. The goal is to update it once a week but life has been kind of crazy lately so I can't make any promises. As of right now I'm not planning any romance but like I said, it's a WIP so that might change. I won't turn it into slash though because I know some of you have been waiting for a non-slashy kid fic. Rated T for some language.
Warning: This story deals with child abandonment.
Behind Blue Eyes
Chapter One: A Very Special Delivery
Casey Hopkins was nearing the end of his shift when an older model Buick parked along the road in front of the guard shack at the main gate of Washington's Navy Yard. Something felt off immediately. People either turned down the road to come through the gate or turned down the next road to park in the small parking lot and walk onto the Navy Yard. No one ever parked along the main road.
He tapped his side to make sure his sidearm was in place before stepping out to investigate. The passenger door of the car opened and a woman almost completely hidden by the winter clothes she was wearing stepped out with a small child. She toddled at the child's pace and the two slowly made their way towards Casey. Suspicious indeed.
With his heart rate elevated and his mind and body on full alert, Casey took a step towards the woman. "Can I help you, Ma'am?"
"Yes," the woman answered kindly. "We're here to see Agent Gibbs." Her voice was muffled behind the scarf covering her mouth.
Casey nodded. He knew Agent Gibbs. "I'll just need your ID," he said, figuring he'd call down to NCIS and ask Gibbs about her.
"Oh, it's in the car," the woman said. "Let me run and get it. Baby, you stay here. Mommy will be right back."
Before Casey could object, the woman was hurrying back towards her car. He stared down at the little boy who was chewing on his fingers. The child was nowhere near as bundled up as his mother was but a woman who was willing to leave her baby with a stranger didn't exactly scream responsibility to Casey. And what was with the guy in the driver's seat? Why didn't these people just drive onto the Navy Yard?
All his questions were answered a moment later when Casey heard the car door slam and tires squealing as the car took off down the street. His mouth dropped open in shock as he watched the vehicle go. Did that really just happen? He looked down at the little boy still standing in front of him and couldn't believe it.
"Uh-oh!" the boy said. He couldn't have been older than two.
"Uh-oh is right," Casey said. His training took over and he knelt in front of the boy to look him over. He didn't appear to be hurt. Casey unzipped the boy's jacket and peeked inside to make sure the child wasn't carrying anything suspicious. You could never be too careful, especially considering how strange that woman was acting.
The little boy giggled when Casey ran his hands over his belly and back and down his legs before zipping his coat up again. He was swooped into the man's arms and carried into the guard shack.
"Looks like you've got a note in your pocket here," Casey said, pulling a slightly crumpled envelope out of the child's coat pocket. Agent Gibbs was scrawled across the front of it in barely legible chicken scratch. "Do you know Agent Gibbs?" Casey asked more to himself than the child. He didn't know much about children but he assumed the boy was too young to really understand what was happening.
The door to the guard shack opened and Casey's replacement entered. "Hopkins! Who's your little friend?"
"Don't know, Moore," Casey answered, watching as the child's attention turned to Brendan Moore when he spoke.
"Bye-bye!" the little boy said as he waved at Moore.
"Hello," Moore corrected with a smile as he tweaked the child's nose.
The little boy squealed in delight as he grabbed at Moore's finger.
"What's going on?" Moore asked, running his thumb over the boy's fingers.
"Car pulled up a couple minutes ago, some lady got out with him and said they were here to see Agent Gibbs. I told her I needed to see her ID. She left the kid with me, went back to her car to get it and next thing I know she's squealing tires to get outta here."
"You're shittin' me!" Moore said.
"No I'm not and watch your language," Casey said with a glare. They weren't used to having little ears around.
"Right," Moore said turning his attention back to the boy who was still holding onto his finger. "Don't say shit, little man. It's a bad word."
"Seriously, dude?" Casey said.
"What?" Moore asked.
"Ssssh. Sshhhhh," the little boy gurgled before Moore clasped his hand over the child's mouth.
"Shit," Moore mouthed at Casey.
"He's little. He's gonna mimic everything he hears."
"How was I supposed to know that?"
"I dunno. Common sense?" Casey replied.
"You have a nephew. You know these things. I don't."
Casey just rolled his eyes.
"Ye-ouch!" Moore screamed jerking his hand away from the little boy's mouth. "He bit me!"
"Good," Casey teased, patting the laughing child's head.
"What're we gonna do with him?" Moore asked, rubbing at the bite mark on his hand.
"Well, I'm definitely not leaving him here with you!" Casey joked. "You'd probably have him smoking cigarettes and swearing up a storm by the time I got back tonight."
"Funny," Moore said, "but I don't smoke."
"He had this shoved in his pocket," Casey said, showing Moore the envelope. "I guess I'll take him to Agent Gibbs."
"Good plan," Moore said. He took the child from Casey and made goo-goo eyes and a goofy grin at him while Casey got ready to go then Casey took the boy back and headed off towards his car.
It was only 9:30 in the morning but it had already been a very long day for Gibbs. After a late start he hadn't had time to stop by his diner for coffee leaving him with the McDonalds drive thru which was one step up from drinking dishwater—barely. Vance had chewed him out for a mistake the probationary agent who'd been assigned to his team last week had made and his team was going through their Monday morning routine of spitballs and paper airplanes, name calling and other things Gibbs would expect to find in a kindergarten classroom rather than the bullpen. He could only hope this wasn't an indication of how his week was going to go.
"McGee, Ziva, go get Troutman from the holding cell and get her over to Metro," he ordered. "Sportelli's expecting you."
"Since when did we start making deliveries to Sportelli?" Ziva asked.
"Since now. Go."
"You guys enjoy your ride," Tony snarked. "I'm just gonna sit here in right-ville and enjoy this well earned cappuccino."
"We get it, Tony," Tim said with a roll of his eyes, "the wife did it. You've once again correctly predicted the wife after countless incorrect guesses."
"DiNozzo, get typing," Gibbs said before the argument could continue. He turned and looked at Tim and Ziva. "Why are you two still here?"
"We're not," Tim said, grabbing Ziva's arm and dragging her towards the elevator.
Gibbs was just starting to relax and let the quiet calm him when a shadow blocked the sunlight pouring in from the skylight. He looked up to find the guard that let him into the Navy Yard every morning holding a little boy. "Casey, what's going on?" he asked as he stood. "Is this the nephew you're always talking about?" He smiled and winked at the little boy who was sucking his thumb.
"This isn't my nephew, Agent Gibbs," Casey said. "He was dropped off at the front gate a few minutes ago."
"Dropped off?" Gibbs asked. That didn't make any sense.
Casey swallowed hard as the reality of what had happened finally hit him. "Abandoned," he corrected. "He had this note in his pocket; has your name on it and his mom said she was here to see you."
Gibbs pulled some gloves out of his desk and put them on before taking the envelope. He slid his letter opener under the seam and in one swift, easy motion the envelope was opened. He pulled out the scrap paper inside, complete with a coffee stain on it, to find two words scrawled across the middle in chicken scratch that put Tony's handwriting to shame: I'm sorry.
"What does it say?" Tony asked as he made his way over to Gibbs' desk.
"Tell me what happened," Gibbs told Casey as he showed the note to Tony.
"An old model Buick Skylark pulled up along the main road. There was a man driving. This lady got out with the kid and I asked if I could help her. She said she was here to see you. I told her I needed to see her ID. She left the kid with me, went back to the car to get it and the car sped off."
"Did you get a license plate?" Gibbs asked.
"Car didn't have plates."
"Gold. It was in really good shape for its age. It wasn't rusted out or banged up or anything."
"Did you get a good look at the adults?" Gibbs asked.
Casey shook his head. "The guy had an overgrown beard, gray or blonde maybe. The lady was bundled up enough she coulda survived a week on the Iditarod."
"Could've been to disguise her identity or maybe they're from outta town," Tony said helpfully. People from down south always bundled up a lot more than those who were used to the New England cold.
Gibbs slipped the note and envelope into an evidence collection bag and sealed it before pulling the gloves off and dropping them into his trash can. Casey stood the little boy on Gibbs' desk, keeping a firm grip on him so he wouldn't fall. He wasn't sure how steady the kid was on his feet.
"Hey, big guy," Gibbs said as he picked the little boy up. "What's your name?"
"B-duy," the boy mimicked. "B-duy." His little tongue popped out and he smiled brightly at Gibbs.
Gibbs couldn't hold back his smile. What was it about little kids that always made him so happy?
He noted that the child was still in diapers and had lost all his baby fat. Judging by his unsure movements and the way he was trying to mimic words, Gibbs guessed he was somewhere between a year and a half to two years old. It wasn't long before he was wiggling around, trying to escape from Gibbs' grasp. Gibbs stood him on the floor then sat back down in his chair so he could reach him to keep him out of trouble.
"Any idea who this is, Boss?" Tony asked. He knelt and let the little boy hold onto his finger.
"Nope," Gibbs answered.
"Careful, he bites," Casey warned.
"I know you're anxious to get outta here, Casey, but I need DiNozzo to take your statement," Gibbs said, watching their guest closely.
"As long as he hurries," Casey said. "It's almost my bedtime."
"I've never met anyone who could sleep all day," Gibbs teased.
"I work all night!" Casey protested.
Gibbs laughed as he motioned towards Tony's desk with his head. "DiNozzo, take his statement. We'll be with Ducky."
Both Tony and Casey waved at the little boy as Gibbs scooped him up and headed towards the elevator.
"Bye-bye," the boy said, waving back at them over Gibbs' shoulder.
"Bye-bye," both men repeated.
"Let's see if we can figure out who you are and where you belong, buddy," Gibbs said as they stepped into the elevator.
The little boy looked around the small room curiously. The man pushed a button and it lit up then the doors closed, trapping them in the small box. When the room started falling, the boy grabbed frantically at Gibbs' shirt and his eyes welled up with tears.
"It's okay, kiddo," Gibbs said, holding the boy a little tighter. "We're just taking a little ride." He wiped away the tears that spilled out and before the boy could get too worked up, the elevator doors opened and Gibbs stepped out. "See? It's okay."
The little boy looked around and was satisfied that they'd made it to safety but he didn't like the loud noises coming from the room they were entering. He covered his ears with his hands as he was carried closer and closer to the noisemaker then, with the push of a button, it was quiet.
"Hey!" Abby protested. She turned to scold Gibbs but ended up smiling when she saw the small child in his arms. "Who's this?"
"Don't know," Gibbs answered, handing her the evidence bag with the envelope and note in it.
"If you were gonna write me an apology, you coulda at least used a clean sheet of paper," Abby said.
Gibbs gave her an amused look but didn't respond verbally.
"What's going on? Where did he come from?"
"He was abandoned at the front gate this morning," Gibbs explained as he stood the child on the evidence table and helped him get his jacket off. "I need you to see if you can get any prints or trace off this stuff. I smell marijuana on his jacket."
"I do too," Abby said, turning her nose up. "He's a little young to be smoking pot," she cooed as she tickled the boy's belly, earning herself a laugh in return.
"Thanks, Abs," Gibbs said as he scooped the child into his arms once again. "We'll be with Ducky."
After another scary elevator ride, Gibbs and the boy stepped out in front of the autopsy suite. The swoosh of the autopsy doors opening only startled the boy further causing him to tighten his embrace on Gibbs' neck. Gibbs rubbed his back as they stepped into the cold, sterile room.
"Hey, Duck," Gibbs greeted. "Got a minute?"
"For you, Jethro? Always," Ducky answered warmly. "Who do we have here?"
"Good question," Gibbs answered. He gave Ducky a brief rundown of the morning's events then they turned their attention back to their guest who was taking in everything in the room.
"This is Ducky," Gibbs told the boy as he sat him on one of the tables. "He's a doctor. He's gonna take a look at you and make sure you're okay."
"Let me grab a blanket out of my office, Jethro," Ducky said. "Otherwise this table will be far too cold for him."
While Ducky retrieved a blanket, Gibbs got the little boy's shirt and pants off. The child was thin but not underweight and except for a few normal childhood bumps and bruises, there wasn't a mark on him. He hadn't been physically abused.
Ducky returned and spread the blanket out on the cold table then Gibbs laid the child down. The boy put his fingers in his mouth and watched Ducky carefully.
"My, my, my, look at those blue eyes," Ducky said as put the earpieces of his stethoscope in his ears.
Gibbs kept a hand on the boy's belly to prevent him from rolling and let him play with his fingers while Ducky checked him over. It didn't take long for the doctor to declare the child healthy. Like Gibbs, Ducky estimated the boy's age to be between eighteen and twenty four months and reported that he was right on target with where a child that age should be both physically and developmentally.
"If you'll get him dressed, Jethro, I need to make a quick phone call," Ducky said. He took his medical bag back over to his desk, picked up his phone and dialed a familiar number. "Mr. Palmer, after you get my tea would you stop by the store and pick up some diapers please?"
"Diapers?" Jimmy asked. "What for?"
"I don't have time for questions right now, Mr. Palmer."
"Our guest weighs just under twenty five pounds," Ducky answered. "Thank you, Mr. Palmer." After hanging up the phone, he returned to the table and helped Gibbs get the squirmy baby back into his shirt.
"Why would someone abandon a child at the front gate of the Navy Yard?" Gibbs asked. He knew of instances where children had been abandoned at fire stations or hospitals or even police stations but never at the Navy Yard and what was with that cryptic note?
"It appears we have a mystery on our hands, Jethro."
Once Tony finished taking Casey's statement, he put it on Gibbs' desk then headed down to Abby's lab. Tim and Ziva were still at DC Metro and as far as he knew Gibbs was still down in autopsy with the mysterious little boy. The elevator doors opened and Tony was met with silence.
"What's wrong, Abs?" he asked as he entered the lab.
"Hey, Tony," Abby greeted with her usual, perky smile. "Nothing's wrong. Why do you ask?"
"There's no music rupturing my eardrums," Tony said.
"Oh, Gibbs was here earlier. He turned it off and didn't turn it back on again before he left. I got busy and I guess I didn't notice the quiet."
"Did you find out anything about the kid?" Tony asked, looking closely at the note.
"Not yet," Abby answered. "I got a print off the note. I'm running it through the system now. I'm also building a DNA profile for whoever licked the envelope. Hopefully we'll get a hit on at least one of them. And I found another scrap of paper in his jacket pocket. Does that look like the logo for Munchkin Mayhem Daycare Center?"
Tony examined the shred of paper carefully before nodding in agreement. "Yeah. Red with a castle and that funky double M design. It's gotta be."
"I wasn't sure if Gibbs wanted to call over there or send someone or what," Abby said. "I don't know what info he wants to give out about the kid."
"Good thinking," Tony said.
"What'd you find out?" Abby asked.
"Casey said the lady who abandoned him referred to herself as the boy's mom," Tony reported. "He couldn't give me much except he thought the car was a mid to late '80s model, gold, not yellow, Buick Skylark."
"I take it since he didn't come down here that he didn't think he could do a sketch," Abby said.
"No, the lady was all bundled up and he didn't get close enough to the guy."
Gibbs made a stop in the break room before heading back to Abby's lab. His new shadow was busy chewing on the collar of his polo shirt but Gibbs decided that was better than his finger. Gibbs didn't know if the kid was teething, hungry or just plain bored. He looked at the vending machine and realized there wasn't anything in there he could feed him. He put a few coins in the drink machine and pushed the button to get a bottle of chocolate milk.
The clunk of the bottle falling in the machine drew the boy's attention away from the growing wet spot he was creating on the collar of Gibbs' shirt.
"Are ya thirsty, bud?" Gibbs asked as he opened the bottle.
The child licked his lips and slurped down some of the drink with Gibbs' help. "Mmm."
"You like that?" Gibbs asked.
The boy answered by grabbing at the bottle and chewing on the edge until Gibbs tipped it and helped him take another drink. Gibbs laughed to himself as he headed towards Abby's lab. He was hoping Abby had found some clue about who the kid was and that that would lead them to why he'd been dropped off.
"What'd you guys find out?" he asked as he strolled into the lab.
"Not much to tell yet, Gibbs," Abby reported. "I found a print on the note and I'm running that through the system now. I also found a piece of paper with Munchkin Mayhem Daycare Center's logo on it."
"Could Casey tell you anything else, DiNozzo?" Gibbs asked as he examined the piece of paper.
"Just that the mystery woman referred to herself as the guy's mom."
"Are McGee and Ziva back yet?" Gibbs asked.
"Haven't seen 'em," Tony answered.
"DiNozzo, you're with me," Gibbs said. "Abs, do you mind keeping an eye on him while we're gone?"
"I'd love to!" Abby said, taking the little boy from Gibbs.
"Palmer's bringing back diapers," Gibbs said, looking at his watch. "He should be back soon."
"Don't worry about us," Abby said, tickling the boy's belly to get him to laugh.
Gibbs and Tony followed the sounds of the children's voices to a large open room in Munchkin Mayhem Daycare. There was a teenager standing behind a large desk next to a middle aged woman who looked like she'd just arrived.
"Can I help you?" the older of the two asked with a smile. She put the bag she was carrying in the desk chair and hung her coat over the back.
"Special Agents Gibbs and DiNozzo," Gibbs said, showing her his badge. When he tried to put it away, the woman reached out and held onto it so he couldn't. The strange look on her face puzzled both agents.
"Is this you?" she asked, despite Gibbs' picture being next to his name.
"Yeah," Gibbs answered. "Is there a problem?"
"No," the woman said. "I'm Heather Cooley, the director of the daycare. Let's go in here and talk where it's a little quieter."
She took them into a room loaded with what looked like every art supply available to man neatly organized on shelves.
"Do you have any children absent today?" Gibbs asked.
"You're gonna have to be a little more specific," Heather answered with a smile. "We have almost sixty children enrolled in our program but they're never here all at once."
"Little guy," Gibbs said, "maybe eighteen to twenty four months old."
"Blonde hair, blue eyes, clothing smells like marijuana?" Heather asked.
Gibbs cocked his head at the woman in confusion.
"How'd you know that?" Tony asked.
"I'll be right back," Heather said.
"Maybe the kid's being abused and the woman's been expecting us," Tony suggested, trying to figure out how, out of sixty children, she happened to know which one they were talking about.
"There wasn't a mark on him," Gibbs said.
The woman returned and handed Gibbs a picture of the little boy that had been abandoned at NCIS that morning.
"That's him," Gibbs said.
"We took these pictures for a Mother's Day project," Heather said. "With all these kids we have to get started early." Gibbs could tell she was stalling but couldn't figure out why. "May I ask why you're inquiring about the boy?"
"He was abandoned at the front gate of the Navy Yard this morning," Tony replied. "We need to figure out who he is and why he was left on our doorstep."
Heather pulled out a half size sheet of cardstock paper and handed it to Gibbs. "This might answer a few of your questions. It's his emergency contact card."
Gibbs looked at the name on the paper and his eyes widened in shock. "This is why you grabbed my badge."
"I'd heard the name before," Heather replied.
"What name?" Tony asked.
Heather looked at Gibbs and realized he was still too stunned to answer so she answered for him. "The boy's name is Leroy Jethro Gibbs."