OK. I'm working on the next chapter of the Terran Jedi and I make the mistake of watching the new (to the UK) series of Haven. Big mistake. The next thing I know, this damn thing falls into my brain and starts to make a complete pest of itself. So – I have another story to write. Oh – and I do not own these characters.
"I don't believe it!"
"Read it and weep, suckers. Full House. Sixes over Tens."
The sailors looked at the cards and then all groaned, whilst the grinning red-headed young sailor smirked at them. "God, I'm good," she muttered. "Lucky, but good."
"Yeah, yeah, crow whilst you can Jablonski. The day is young," the oldest sailor smiled. "We still have a chance to get back our would-be money."
"This would be so much more fun if we were playing for money," Jablonski muttered as she pulled the small pile of M&Ms towards her. When she looked up the three other players were all shaking their heads and pulling faces. "What?"
"You've never heard the Skipper tear a strip off a fellow crew member for gambling. The guy's great – best skipper I've ever served with – but he's got a bee in his bonnet the size of a Sentry about gambling for money. A friendly wager's one thing, but gambling for real cash? That's a no-no."
She looked at him and he could see the doubt in her face. "Really?"
"Really," he said forcefully. "I know you're new here on the Wasp, but believe me when I say that the Skipper's lecture on gambling is one that you don't want to hear. You met Eckers yet?"
She frowned in thought. "Machinists Mate. Got biceps like you wouldn't believe. I hear he has to shave twice a day."
"Yeah, and he grew up the wrong side of Hell's Kitchen. He's got stories from being a civilian that would scare an Iraq War veteran. When he was caught trying to arrange a little betting action on the Kentucky Derby the Skipper had a word with him. I found him in a bar afterwards, crying like a baby into his beer."
As she pulled a 'oh shit' face he picked up the cards and shuffled them rapidly. "OK, that's why we do this the way that we do. Everyone ante up whilst I deal."
Everyone pushed in an M&M and he started to deal with a flourish. Once he finished he picked up his own cards and peered at them. Not seeing any movement to his left he looked at Jablonski. "Hey, come on. You sulking or something?"
She was just sitting there with an odd, set, look on her face. She seemed to be looking at the middle distance. "Hey!" He repeated and poked her gently. She didn't respond at all and he peered at her more closely. She didn't seem to be breathing. "You ok?" He prodded at her again – and then she slumped slowly and bonelessly out of her chair onto the steel floor.
Whereupon all hell broke loose.
The elevator dinged as it opened and Leroy Jethro Gibbs stalked out of it and into the Bullpen of the floor where he worked in the NCIS headquarters. AS he walked he took a quick gulp of coffee and resisted the temptation to smack his lips and grin. Yup, it was the good stuff this morning from his favourite vendor. Enough caffeine to raise a victim of sleeping sickness.
"Morning boss," McGee said, looking up from his desk. The younger man looked neat and tidy and not at all tired after his evening patrol.
"Morning McGee," he grunted. Then he looked keenly at him. "Any joy last night?" he asked quietly.
"Two vampires and a would-be rapist," McGee said in an equally quiet voice. "The first were dusted and I used the Jedi Mind Trick on the second to persuade him to never ever do anything like that again. And if he does I have his name and address."
"Good job." Gibbs sat down at his own desk and started up his computer. The moment that the main screen came on he saw a flashing icon on it and he opened his calendar in response. Oh hell, today was the day of that damn meeting with the FBI. On the one hand it was always a pleasure to see his old friend Tobias. On the other this was a meeting to discuss how to co-ordinate their time and efforts in order to avoid having too many meetings. Which kind of defeated the purpose and which sounded all too like a Dilbert cartoon that McGee had emailed around the team the previous day.
"Morning Boss," said a new voice and he looked up just in time to see DiNozzo slump into his chair. He looked like a man who'd been ridden hard and put away wet and he guessed from the smirk on his face that his date with 'that totally hot barista chick with the tattoos' had been a roaring success.
"Good morning Gibbs," said a crisp female voice and he smiled and nodded at Ziva, who was looking disgustedly at the wreckage behind the desk opposite hers. "Tony. I see that your date went as planned? Oh wait, please don't regale us with the sordid details."
Tony smirked even harder. "She had a lot of tattoos," he said, his hands clasped around the back of his head. "And in some very interesting places."
"I'm with Ziva – please spare us the details," McGee said with a shake of his head.
"You're just jealous, young Tim. Just jealous." Tony replied with an even bigger smirk.
From the way that McGee tilted his head and then smiled quietly Gibbs guessed that McGee was nothing of the sort and then made a mental note to ask Abby what the latest gossip was about him. After all even a Jedi Knight had to have a personal life.
He leant back in his chair and looked the window thoughtfully. The past eight months had been... interesting. Discovering that vampires and demons existed had been alarming enough. The news that McGee was a Jedi Knight had been a bolt from the blue. And then there had been the little revelation that he could use magic. He'd known straight away that nothing would ever be the same again.
But oddly enough they'd been able to fit all this weirdness into their usual day-to-day lives. The supernatural hadn't raised its head that often. McGee's use of the Force had been a massive aid to their work. And his own talents and the senses that came with them had also been a benefit. Anyone stupid enough to tell a lie to either himself or McGee got rumbled instantly.
Much to their credit Tony and Ziva had also made things work. He'd been afraid that DiNozzo – the self-proclaimed Jedi Master of crime – would resent McGee's new talents, but the man's maturity had surprised him. He'd not just coped but he'd found a way of getting the best out of McGee. As for Ziva she'd adapted like the professional that she always had been.
He was jolted out of his reverie by the approach of Leon Vance. The Director had a thoughtful look on his face.
"The FBI on their way?" Gibbs asked with a sigh.
"Nope, Fornell just rang to cancel. Some kind of emergency. Apologised but said that he had an agent down."
Gibbs pulled a face. No Federal Agent ever liked to hear those fateful words. "Did he say how?"
"No – he was in a hurry. You know what the man's like. They'll reschedule."
"They sure will. Thanks Leon." The phone rang and he picked it up. "Gibbs." As he listened he looked around for a pen and made some rapid notes. Once the voice on the other end had finished he put the receiver down and then grabbed his bag and stood up. "Gear up. We've got a dead female sailor on the USS Wasp here in Norfolk."
Gibbs looked around the room with interest, before returning his gaze to the table and the cards on it. Oh and the pile of M&Ms. Heh. So people were taking Mackenzies' anti-gambling tirades to heart were they? Good. Then he looked at the dead body on the floor. That was the bad part of the day. A redhead too. Something was wrong about this, but he couldn't put his finger on it. Perhaps when there was no-one else around he'd have a quiet word with Ducky. He needed some more training on how to zero in on what his senses were telling him.
"What have you got Ducky?"
The old medical examiner sighed as he straightened up and peered at the liver probe in his hand. "Something of a mystery, Jethro. I cannot find a visible cause of death for this young woman. I estimate her time of death to have been around two hours ago, which is consistent with the statements of the witnesses, but I cannot see what killed her. No bruising, no blood, no sign of a struggle… it's as if she simply shut down for no reason that I can fathom."
Footsteps clattered over the floor, proclaiming the arrival of McGee, Ziva and DiNozzo. The latter spoke first. "All the witnesses said the same thing Boss. Early morning – 7.30am – poker game for off-duty personnel. They were playing poker for M&Ms, Jablonski was winning, they all anted up for the next hand, Petty Officer Third Class Morgan dealt the cards – but Jablonski didn't pick them up. She was unresponsive and looked, well, as she does now. Morgan poked her with his finger and she fell on the floor. When they saw that she wasn't breathing they summoned a Corpsman and he declared her dead. No struggle, no trouble, nothing."
"They're telling the truth Boss," McGee muttered quietly. "I can't sense that any of them are lying."
"Then what the hell happened to her? Drugs? Natural causes?"
"I'll know more once I get her back to autopsy and open her up," Ducky muttered, frowning at the liver probe.
Gibbs followed his gaze and then gestured at the device. "Something wrong with it?"
"No, no, it's fine. It's just… well, the blood at the end seems to be a bit odd. How peculiar. I'll look into it once I get her back. Mr Palmer, the gurney please."
Gibbs scratched his forehead with his forefinger and then looked around the compartment. Something definitely felt odd about the whole thing, but he still couldn't work out why he was getting this odd vibe. "McGee," he said quietly, "You picking anything up with the you-know-what?"
Much to his credit McGee didn't looked around to make sure that they weren't being overheard. The man had learnt a lot in recent months, including not calling attention to himself. "Yeah. Something's… well, not wrong, but certainly not right. I just can't work out what."
Huh. Interesting. "Same here. Keep your eyes and ears open, people. This one smells a bit hinky as Abby would say."
By the time that they got back to the Navy Yard Gibbs' sixth sense was blaring at him and flashing its lights. He sank into his chair, watching as McGee started to research Jablonski's life and Tony and Ziva started to go through the witness statements. He caught sight of something blinking out of the corner of his eye and then noticed that his phone was telling him that he had voicemail. Sighing he picked up the receiver and after hitting the right button discovered a message from Fornell apologising for the delayed meeting. Hmmm. Tobias sounded a bit spooked by something. Hopefully their mutual ex-wife hadn't been in touch again.
A moment after he hung up the phone rang again and his eyebrows rose when he saw the caller ID. "What have you got for me Ducky?" he asked as he answered it.
"A mystery, Could you come down here please? And bring your team. You're all going to have to hear this."
"Will do." He replaced the phone yet again and looked at his team. "Ducky wants to see us all in Autopsy."
His team raised their collective eyebrows as well. "That was fast Boss," Tony frowned. "Ducky hasn't had the body for that long."
"Yeah," Gibbs said as he stood up and strode to the elevator. "That's what worries me too."
When they exited the elevator the found Palmer waiting on the other side of it. He had about five boxes of medical samples on him and he looked both weirded out and annoyed at the same time. "Samples for Abby," he said as he rushed past them into the elevator. "And he needs these done five minutes ago."
Entering Autopsy they found Ducky bent over the corpse of Seaman Jablonski with a fierce scowl on his face. He looked up as they arrived. "Ah," he said dryly. "We have a problem Jethro. I have a cause of death for this young woman. Unfortunately it's a rather unusual one."
Aha. This was why his sixth sense had been shouting in his ear all morning. "Unusual in what way Ducky?"
"Because Jethro, Seaman Jablonski died when every single molecule of blood in her body underwent instantaneous disseminated intravascular coagulation."
They all looked at him until he realised that they didn't have a clue about what he was talking about. "Her blood clotted instantly in her veins. And I mean every bit of it. I've checked as many veins as I can – and it's all clotted. Which is impossible."
"Wow," DiNozzo said almost dreamily. "A real-life Andromeda Syndrome."
"A what?" Ziva asked looking baffled.
"Andromeda Syndrome – a 1971 movie based on a book by Michael Crichton, the guy who wrote Jurassic Park. A bit of a slow burner given the – ah, shutting up now Boss."
"Thank you DiNozzo. Ducky, isn't it possible that someone could have fed Jablonski blood clotting drugs or something?"
"Yes, I did think of that Jethro. But the problem is that such drugs are by their very nature rather unpredictable, depending on people's metabolism. You'd need a massive amount of them to coagulate all of the blood in the human body at once. And such drugs would leave some form of initial trauma behind them – large blood clots, heart attacks, strokes, deep vein thrombosis. Such things would turn up on an X-ray. But not in this case. Besides, to get such a result you'd need to inject the drugs straight into a major artery, to ensure maximum and rapid dissemination throughout the body. I can't find any trace of any such injection."
"You're sure it was instantaneous?"
"Oh yes." Ducky pulled the body gently up to one side. "When we saw the body it had been on its back for at least an hour and a half. But there's no sign of blood pooling on the back. No sign anywhere at all. The blood couldn't pool because it couldn't move. Because it had clotted in her very veins."
Gibbs pulled a face. "Ok, so we've got a weird one. We passed Palmer in the corridor taking blood samples to Abby. Anything else?"
"Just this Jethro. I have never, in all my life, heard of anything remotely like this ever happening. Of course there's a first time for everything, but with no obvious sign of any possible mechanism for the delivery of any drug that could have clotted this amount of blood – well, something doesn't smell right. I'm going to ask around to see if any pharmaceutical company is trialling a new blood-clotting drug, just to be on the safe side, but I also suspect that there might be a supernatural cause. Which is, of course, why I sent young Mr Palmer off to Abby with those samples."
"He doesn't know about things that go bump in the night yet then?" DiNozzo said with a smirk.
"I fear that Mr Palmer is young enough to think that the world runs in a logical fashion," Ducky sighed. "Although I must say that I will be educating him as soon as I can."
"Right," sighed Gibbs, "I had a feeling that something was odd about this case. Well, we'll have to see where this one takes us. Ducky, if you find out anything new let us know. I'll drop by Abby's lab in a few hours to see if she has any results yet. The rest of you – keep digging. Except you McGee. You feel the need for a Jedi nap thing yet?"
McGee blinked, hard. "You want me to try and get a Force vision Boss?"
"Maybe. I've got a feeling that… well, I've just got a feeling at the moment, so I need to focus myself as well. Something's nagging at me. I get this sense that we're missing a piece in the puzzle."
When Gibbs got back to his desk he found a blinking light on his phone that meant that several more people had tried to call him. He glared at the damn thing and then finally gave in and checked out his messages. One call from an ex-wife complaining that he'd forgotten her birthday (not guilty – the Postal Service had fallen down on the job again obviously), one message from Vance's secretary reminding him about DiNozzo's appearance in court for the Grant case (that was going to be a good one) and a message from Fornell saying that he was now out of quarantine (say what again?) and could he please pick up the damn phone and reschedule that damn meeting.
So he picked up the phone and called Fornell. "What's this about getting out quarantine? You been overseas somewhere?"
"Precautionary measures. We've got a new ME who's a bit wet behind the ears and he panicked a bit. Well, kind of. It's been a hell of a day."
"I heard you lost an agent. Never a good day when that happens. Hope it wasn't anyone we know here." "You knew her. Helen Reynolds."
"Ah hell." He remembered her. Blonde, vivacious, young and a very professional agent. "I'm sorry for your loss Tobias."
"Yeah, well, it's worse because it happened right in front of me. We were in a 7.30am early morning meeting to discuss the latest crime figures for the area. She was talking about the statistics, she paused to advance to the next Powerpoint slide – and she never said another word. When I looked at her she was sitting there, dead in her chair, eyes open. Damnedest thing. Our ME's baffled. Wants to call Ducky."
Gibbs closed his eyes for a moment. And there it was. There were times when he hated his gut, or his magic-driven instincts, or whatever it was exactly. "What does he want to ask Ducky about?"
"Apparently Reynolds' blood clotted in her veins. Like I said – damnedest thing."
"Tobias, you'd better get over here. Bring your ME and the body as well. Ducky's got a seaman called Jablonski on the slab in Autopsy right now. She died this morning at 7.30am. And the cause of death was all the blood in her body clotting at the same time. Tell me that's not a co-incidence."
"Ah hell indeed. I'll talk to my Director. Then I'll come over. So much for a quiet day doing the paperwork."
"See ya later." He put the phone down and then looked at his team. "Ok, you heard. That was Fornell. The same thing that happened to Jablonski happened to a member of his team, Helen Reynolds."
"Oh crap no. She was cute."
Gibbs glared at DiNozzo, who at least had the decency to cringe.
"Thank you DiNozzo. Fornell said it happened at 7.30am, right in front of his eyes. He's coming over with the body and his ME. There has to be a connection between Jablonski and Reynolds. Pull Jablonski's record apart. Talk to friends, family, co-workers. Usual drill. Move it! McGee – do that thing I told you to do later."
The rest of the day was something of a blur. Vance and Fornell's boss did their usual turf war (which Vance won, largely because Fornell knew that the FBI's ME was indeed so wet behind the ears that he shaved with a sponge), everyone either hit the phones or vanished off to interview people and Gibbs had to glue Abby back together after she failed to discover any trace of blood clotting drugs at all in the red powder/paste that was in the veins of both Jablonski and Reynolds. He hated to see Abby stressing about a failure and with two agencies involved she'd been doubly affected.
Although she had reacted with relief when Ducky had quietly passed on his suspicion that the cause was supernatural. And then she'd inhaled a Caff-Pow and went looking for 'odd energy signatures' that might signal the presence of magic. Go Abby.
They finally caught a break when they all compared notes on possible connections between the two and it was of course DiNozzo who spotted it.
"A month ago Jablonski broke up with her boyfriend, Marine Sergeant John Frasier McNeill. She'd been going out with him for six months. Ten months ago Agent Reynolds broke up wither then boyfriend. Whose name just happens to be Marine Sergeant John Frasier McNeill. Coincidence? I think not."
"McGee, trace McNeill, now. DiNozzo – any reason cited why they broke up? Was he violent, threatening, abusive?"
DiNozzo pulled a slight face. "Just the opposite Boss. That's the odd thing. Jablonski's co-workers said that she said that he was a really great guy – kind, attentive and so on."
"I remember Reynolds talking about him once – she said the same thing," said Fornell, breaking in. "Then why the break-up?" Gibbs asked.
"Reynolds said that he was still holding a candle for his ex-wife," Fornell replied, frowning in concentration.
"Boss, that's exactly the same reason that Jablonski gave to her sister. He was still in love with his ex-wife."
Gibbs thought of Shannon for a long moment and then smiled sadly. "It happens," he muttered. "So – we need to pull McNeill in and question him."
"That'll be difficult Boss," McGee said as his fingers stopped skittering across the keyboard. He looked up. "Because Marine Sergeant John Frasier McNeill flew out of Ronald Reagan Washington National for Bangor, Maine, late yesterday afternoon. According to this he's on Emergency Leave. His ex-wife died."
Damn it, Gibbs thought. "Ok, so where's he heading?"
There was a burst of rapid keyboard tapping and then McGee looked up again. "A small town on the coast of Maine Boss. Called Haven."