Disclaimer: I don't own the NCIS characters but the LOLs Lil, Carla and Rae are all mine. Alas I am not benefiting financially from this story, it is purely for entertainment purposes.
Rating: T mainly to be safe for some bad language.
This story isn't beta'ed so please excuse my less than perfect to people who have let me know about faux pas, much appreciated.
A/N Once again thank-you to everyone for your response to the story with reviews, alerts and making it a favourite. Meilea4544 to answer your question, Gibbs calling the LOLs the Three Witches refers to characters of in the William Shakespeare play Macbeth and wasn't meant to be a compliment. Also for the reviewer who wanted to know, Tony and the LOLs have all moved back to their apartments too. Hopefully everyone is getting alerts again since FF wasn't sending any out for a while. I am still missing some from reviews and other writer's stories so I hope everything is back to normal now. Just a spoiler, I have tag coming up in the Angel Cate series in the near future that deals with "that scene" in Boxed In from Probationary Guardian Angel Cate's pov. I hope to post it to coincide with the 1st year anniversary of my first story I'm Better Than That which was also a Boxed In tag.
Well finally...this is the final installment of this story and I've really enjoyed writing and bringing it to you. Thanks to Arress and Catsmeou for their suggestions with this chapter. I hope you've enjoyed this :)
Left For Dead
As Ducky returned to Autopsy, he admitted to himself that he hadn't been completely forthcoming with his friends. Truth be told, he had given the delightful LOLs as they had been universally christened by everyone at NCIS, although he preferred to think of them as Anthony's Grandmothers, his sincere mea culpa. That much was definitely true. He had invited them home to meet his mother and it did not escape his attention that it was hypocritical not to mention ironic that he had worked with Anthony for over two years and yet he barely knew these redoubtable ladies before inviting them to his domicile. Yet his intentions were not confined to saving his mature posterior from a whooping. After having a good hard look at himself and his behaviour, he realised that his mother's illness had been making him rather insular.
Sadly, Alzheimer's and dementia did that to the family and carer-givers of those individuals who have to live with the disease. Outsiders often seemed to see it as transmittable, something like how cancer used to be whispered about a century before, as if there was a stigma to having it and it could be caught just by being around someone diagnosed with it. Ducky understood it had been the fear of death and the fact that there was no cure but for many people, dementia still evoked a similar primordial avoidance response in people towards the one's afflicted and even their loved ones.
Ducky had experienced it personally, watched Victoria's friends and his own, drift away with weak excuses about busy schedules or when pushed, how they couldn't stand to watch his formidable mother fall apart before their eyes. It had caused Ducky to shut himself, well both of them off, socially. Oh certainly, Reston house bustled with people coming and going, but they were always there in a professional capacity, his mother's nurse companions, doctors, he'd even organised for podiatrists, physical and occupational therapists to do home visits, too. Since reading about the benefits of music therapy, he was even investigating hiring a music therapist but he found it easier for them to come to the house. Less stressful to Victoria and definitely far less embarrassing to her son to have health care workers do home visits and he could afford to pay extra.
But in light of the debacle with young Anthony, he had taken a good hard look at himself and his home life and realised that he shouldn't be so quick to assume that his work colleagues would shun him because of his mother's life-limiting illness. He also really needed to find some people for his mother to socialise with, even if it might be difficult to find the right people. Perhaps looking for new friends who didn't know his mother before, who might be more accepting and less likely to judge her may make for more satisfying companions than the so-called stalwart friends of a lifetime. So he had decided to invite the Grandmothers and give them a proper apology and explanation – a warts and all outline his deficiencies. He suspected that even though his mother was not the woman she once was, she would like the LOLs as much as he did. He admired their pluck and they were obviously women of substance, since they saw the inherent goodliness in their very special agent.
Even apart from all of those incentives, Ducky had another ulterior motive. As the team had observed rather bitterly, the women had considerable resources and had managed to assemble some very focused intell on their targets to extract their own form of retribution for Tony. Gibbs thought that Carla was using her ties to the Hispanic community and perhaps she was, since Gibbs gut was all knowing but Ducky had a strong feeling that their snitch might be someone much closer to home. Personally, he had Christopher Pacci pegged as their stool pigeon since he was a supporter of Tony's; had been since Gibbs recruited him after running into him, literally, in Baltimore. Ducky knew though, that if Pacci had been tattling on his colleagues to the LOLs, he was definitely way too much of a professional to have left any incriminating evidence behind.
There was another candidate for the role and ordinarily he would discount him unequivocally but his intuition was telling him that it was an inside job. Director Morrow was apparently taking a rather hands on approach to the situation. He knew that Thomas also had a soft spot for Gibbs' senior field agent, too. To his surprise; somewhere along the way, the good director had made the acquaintance of Anthony's Grandmothers, presumably through Christopher who seemed to get on with them like a house on fire. So, he wouldn't necessarily rule out their highly esteemed leader as the source of the leak, even if like Pacci he could never prove it. Perhaps he might be able to wheedle it out of Thomas with a wee dram of whiskey and a touch of the Scottish brogue, though.
Whatever the truth about how the formidable trio gathered their data, he noticed that they managed to garner loyalty and friendship where ever they went…well apart from Cate and Gibbs, Abby seemed not to have borne them a grudge and while they were scarily fierce in defence of Anthony, Ducky thought that they had an even more valuable and attractive quality. They obviously loved Anthony to bits and he thought that it was probably a unique experience for the young agent. One that would be invaluable in trying to help rebuilt his trust and help start the healing process. He desperately wanted to enlist Lillian, Carla and Raelene into what he knew was a daunting undertaking and recognised he needed to befriend them.
The doctor pulled out a crumple sheet of paper as he entered Autopsy. It had been screwed up at some point and since he had started carrying it around in his pocket and taking it out to reread and contemplate its implications, it had become considerably more dog eared and crinkled. Ducky hadn't mentioned its existence to anyone, not Gibbs not even Anthony but he was greatly disturbed by what it contained. After Anthony had landed in hospital playing Sir Galahad to the young waif on the street, Ducky had finally come back to NCIS and sat at the young agent's desk, meditating as he had seen it's young occupant do on many an occasion. There he sat; trying to figure out just how they'd managed to make such a dog's breakfast of it all and what to do about it.
Following his instinct, something compelled him to look at the trash can beside Anthony's desk and he saw a balled up piece of paper on the top of the pile. Not really sure what made him go trawling through the young agent's trash, he nevertheless snatched up that paper. Perhaps it was his Guardian Angel directing him to find it but whether it was fate, kismet, spirit guides or dumb luck, he was just pleased that he found it because it enabled him to realise the enormity of the task that they faced. He hadn't been exaggerating down in Abigail's Lab. It was a monumental task they faced, not made easier by their stupid and uncaring behaviour that simply confirmed one of Anthony's innermost fears. Smoothing out the sheet of paper again, he stared at it for the hundredth time, hoping perhaps to find some inspiration or frankly, he'd accept some divine intervention very gladly.
In his distinctive script, Anthony had written
Very Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo is fine. Yeah right!
F: fucked up beyond all recognition, full of shit, fool, feeble
I: irritating, idiot, infuriating, indolent
N: Nuisance, nauseating, nasty, non-essential
E: exasperating,extrinsic, effete, erroneous
Even though Ducky had read this self-appraisal many times before, each time he reread it, the pain, anger, and self-loathing leapt up of the page and punched him right in the heart. This was the internal dialogue that Anthony had developed, undoubtedly composed as his personality, mind and spirit were being shaped and moulded as a child by his contemptible caregivers: alcoholic father, alcoholic mother and who knew about the step- mothers. Not to mention all the private tutors, servants who were forced to care for the boy while still completing their real work, school masters and mistresses who never reported the entrenched abuse and neglect.
He really didn't know if the abuse was only emotional or not though, there were some huge red flags waving but whether there was or not, the damage done to a vulnerable young, not yet formed psyche was extensive. Frankly, the fact that Anthony was such a highly functioning, caring and brilliant investigator was shocking, as was the fact that he not only didn't use his past as an excuse but hid his upbringing from them all. Ducky was humbled and ashamed each time he read the note. Humbled to know such a complex and wounded young man that manage to hide so much of his own pain and still want to make the world a better place for others. Ashamed because as was frequently the case with the more horrific cases that passed through his domain, he felt ashamed to belong to the same species as someone who could knowingly inflict such hurt and suffering upon another individual. What other species could visit so much harm upon the fruit of their loins?
No, he had definitely not exaggerated the enormity of the task. Cursing the day that the alcoholic excuse for a father that was Anthony DiNozzo Senior had been born, he was reminded of the Biblical passage from Exodus 20:5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me. Even though Ducky wasn't exactly a religious man, it did seem rather apt.
Their dear boy was certainly paying for the sins of his father. Hopefully with the people that had assembled to fight the good fight for him, they might be able to bring an end to that quittance. Maybe someday they might even be able to grant him a modicum of recompense. No one deserved it more.