A/N: I think Gibbs may have been holding my muse hostage in his basement all summer, because all she came up with were a myriad of stories starring my favorite Marine. This is the only one that survived the crash of my hard drive, however, so until the others decide to make a re-appearance, we'll just go with this one.
Disclaimer: Gibbs is not mine. :(
Summary: It was late and everyone was gone except for his team. And none of them were going to be going anywhere anytime soon. He hated this case. Really, really hated it. And after so many years on the job, that was saying something.
Timeline: Sometime during Ziva's tenure
Leroy Jethro Gibbs leaned back in his chair, stretching his legs restlessly and finally lifting them to rest his feet on his desk. It was late and everyone was gone except for his team. And none of them were going to be going anywhere anytime soon. He hated this case. Really, really hated it. And after so many years on the job, that was saying something.
He stared at his phone as if waiting for it to ring. As if he could make it ring through the sheer force of his own will. He kept staring, getting more and more pissed when it didn't ring.
Cursing under his breath, he swung his legs down and opened his desk drawer, taking out his flask. He stared at it, like he always did, absorbing the familiar inscription there. He unscrewed the lid, the familiar smell of bourbon wafting through the air. And then he cursed again, screwing the lid back on and replacing it, shoving the drawer shut as if that act would remove the temptation of its contents. He couldn't afford it tonight. He needed to be a hundred percent for this Marine who was out there, somewhere, probably being tortured right now.
Damn it! He really hated this case. He didn't have to look at the screen to see her face. It was already embedded in his brain, along with that of her children. At her house today, he had looked into the blue, blue eyes of those kids, and seen himself at that age. Soldiers' kids had to grow up way too fast sometimes. These kids had already buried their father. They weren't going to bury their mother, too. Not if he could help it.
And the circumstances… well, he pretty much hated them, too. They hit far too close to home. Wrong place, wrong time. Katherine Murphy was a former Marine drill sergeant who'd served her twenty, went to medical school, and become an ER doctor. And that was a really quick way of saying she'd been through a lot. As a civilian, she'd married a Marine officer, had three children, lost her husband in combat and been nearly killed by a drunk driver in a horrendous accident that had taken the life of her youngest son. And, more recently, been in the wrong place at the wrong time and treated a man who Gibbs and the team believed to be a high-ranking cartel boss.
Five men with machine guns in all black had stormed her home, intending on executing all inhabitants, including the kids, the sister, and the sister's young children, until Dr. Murphy had quickly offered the information that had been given her by the dying man if her family was left alive. The sister, Cassandra Hollings, was pretty sure she was bluffing, since she hadn't mentioned anything like that to her. As far as she knew, her sister had treated the man and lost him on the table. End of story. She would have nothing to give them, because there was nothing to give. He could still see the look in her eyes. She was pretty sure her sister was already dead. She was another Marine wife, and probably just about as tough as her sister. She didn't pull her punches, and there were no tears. Straight and to the point.
He was still hoping that Abby might get something he could use from the many blood spatters found at the scene. It was obvious that Dr. Murphy had fought, and fought hard. The clearest picture they had of her was from her service record, but he had the report from the car accident, and he imagined that she looked much different now. They'd basically had to put her back together again, and it had been just plain luck that a donor match had come through at the same time that she needed multiple organ transplants.
Finding the strength to go on after living through something like that… Gibbs just shook his head. If anyone could survive the torture she was probably undergoing at the moment, it was this woman. And there was no way he would sleep, or numb himself with alcohol, until they found her.
Sighing, he opened her service record again. Katherine Murphy, Katherine McNeil during her time in the service, apparently didn't hear the word "quit." At a time when just about anything would have been easier than being a woman in the Marine Corps, she had kicked some serious ass. While the physical requirements at the time had been much less for females than their male counterparts, this Marine had refused to acknowledge the lesser standard and had beat most of the men in every respect. She was a highly decorated Marine, and had just about shattered every glass ceiling there was in the Corps, or anywhere else, for that matter. Her service record was exemplary.
Closing it with a sigh, he picked up the picture Cassandra Hollings had given him. It was a family portrait, taken while the family remained intact. Mom and Dad smiling behind three adorable happy kids. Major Murphy was probably about his age. He had a broad smile and the kind of face most women would probably adore. By all accounts, he'd been a stand-up guy. Gibbs' gaze lingered longer on the wife. She had fair skin and long, dark brown hair just a hair's breadth from black. And eyes that were so blue it was hard to believe they weren't man-made. He knew they had to be hers, though, because all three of her kids had that same startling blue. There was something about her…
Something was familiar about her. He felt like he should know her but he couldn't figure out why. He knew they'd never crossed paths. He would have remembered a face like that. He was pretty sure anyone would. She was strikingly beautiful, an attribute that would have made her career as a Marine that much more difficult, as he well knew. She had a heart-shaped face, a long, straight nose, and those eyes… they seemed to bore into his soul. As striking as they were, even then she carried the world in those eyes. He wondered how much more he would see if he looked into him now.
Unable to place her and starting to get disturbed by it, he glanced at the kids. The oldest two were only a year apart, probably about five and six in this picture, and the youngest was a babe in his mother's arms. Quick calculations told him that the Major had died not long after this was taken, and the car accident had come about a year and a half later. His eyes focused on the baby, just a few months old here. His gummy smile made Gibbs' heart hurt a little, knowing as he did what would happen to him, what had happened to him. Even the older kids seemed to have aged decades from the carefree smiling kids in this portrait. They had already been through so much. The boy, Jake, had asked him politely to please find his mother. "We aren't ready to let go of her yet, sir," he had said solemnly, and Gibbs had nodded. No one ever was. He knew that from painful experience.
The ones he'd loved and lost scrolled through his mind then, and his heart stuttered. He looked back at the smiling face of Katherine Murphy. His mind had finally pinpointed what it was that was bugging him. Aside from those vibrantly blue eyes, the doctor was a dead ringer for Special Agent Caitlin Todd.