With You, I Will Grieve
Note and Disclaimer: Obviously, I don't own the character and plotlines of NCIS, but do own some of the characters I have created in this story, like Lydia Sullivan. This is a rewritten story and will have updated chapters and plot. Thank you for everyone for their suggestions and encouragement. I hope you enjoy this story better than its original.
June 17, 2006
Some days, you believe your day will just be another normal one. You wake up, dress in your uniform or business attire and set out for work. There is the rush for caffeine, maybe a meeting or three with friends or colleagues, and off to work you go. Another business day passes by, you nab the bad guys or complete some mundane task, and you feel satisfaction.
This day was not one of those. Over a year ago now, my life had changed. It was not because June 17, 2006 was a normal one in the office for me. It was when the next step in my life began. There was no looking back.
I didn't think about that in the morning when the alarm woke me up at four. Being the youngest detective assigned in DC did not mean this routine changed either because I always had something to prove. The late spring day still brought me to my routine. I woke up, dressed, exercised and made some coffee. My much older roommate and partner on the force, Bethany Athens, was just doing the same sans the running. While she was lax and often late, I was up and ready to go an hour before catching a ride with her.
Eventually, Bethany woke up and began her morning ritual, half an hour before we were expected to leave and miss traffic. As always, she managed to get in the driver's seat a minute before we were supposed to leave, coffee in hand and rock music blaring out of the open window. I jumped into the back seat, tossing everything in the front passenger side. I did sit-ups as she drove on to the station.
Half an hour later, Bethany heard of our first assignment through the radio she had attached in her car. She turned down the music to hear it. "We've got a ten-sixty-seven down at Penn Quarter," she told me.
"Why are we doing it?" I asked her as I counted fifty sit-ups and going. "It's a wellness check. Send a rookie."
Bethany sighed. "Lyddy Sullivan, not willing to get dirty? I am ashamed." She tsked from her seat.
"Come on, it's not like we're on the first month on the job. I've been here for a year." I grunted. When Bethany arrived close to a construction site, I sat and buckled up before I was caught. "Why do we have to do it?"
"The feds are there," Bethany enlightened me. "NCIS has been called. It's a Marine officer. Depending on what happens to him determines jurisdiction."
"And dispatch thought we had the balls for the job?"
"Well, they are Navy cops. They probably need a break from the barrel."
"Ooohhh, do they need to be reminded of the UCMJ rules?"
Bethany glanced at me through the mirror. "Maybe. You're a Marine brat. You tell me."
I shook my head. Bethany never understood. It was a part of my life I preferred to forget. I adored civilian life and oddly enough, did not look forward to be living on base with my soon-to-be husband, Keith Bolton. I knew that my life will be bound elsewhere once I married the love of my life, but that was another story. I had time to think of where my personal and professional choices will be once Keith and I marry.
"If I can get past the haze," I admitted, laughing to myself. It was more to forget it. "I think we'll be fine. It might be some old, retired Marine officer who got lost. We will get grabs on this."
"And if it's murder?" Bethany asked me mysteriously.
"Oh, please!" I rolled my eyes. "NCIS gets retired members on a case-to-case basis. It depends on who it is. Most likely, it's ours."
Bethany mumbled something about dealing with the feds and shut down. She passed the construction and took an exit. It took us another half an hour to get to our destination, though. It was tough to get past the tourists, so much so that Bethany and I parked and paid, setting off to the apartment complex in question on foot.
All things considering, it was a typical scene when we arrived. Bethany and I showed our badges badges to the guards and gained entry. We took the elevator up to the residence and had to flash our identities again. When the rookies from the station let us through, we both met with the man who was heading this investigation for NCIS – Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs.
We greeted each other coolly. I studied the man as Bethany introduced us and the talk began about the locked door before us. Colonel James Henderson, not quite retired and utterly influential, had not been heard from in several days. His position at the Pentagon transitioned without losing his military security clearance. His superiors at the Pentagon were worried, with the information he obtained, that he kidnapped or killed.
While Bethany wrote down the details and I listened to Gibbs, my mind went all over the place. From the three agents who stood around waiting for the signal to move and the curious neighbors who opened their doors and whispered to each other, there was a lot of activity. The world was a fury of actions, from one day to the next, and all of them led us to believe that all was well with Colonel Henderson.
I took a deep breath and saw a break in the conversation. "Does a relative or friend visit often?"
Gibbs was mildly surprised that I said something. He cocked an eyebrow, almost in a familiarity kind of way, and nodded. "He has a nephew. We are contacting him now."
"The building is secure," I mentioned, motioning to the cameras in every corner. "There is no evidence of a break-in."
"We don't know that," another agent told me as he approached.
"DiNozzo, back off," Gibbs warned gruffly.
"Right, Boss," the agent named DiNozzo replied, walking backwards to the door. "Don't jump the cops."
I bit back a retort. Being twenty-three and with schooling and a career that most can drool over did not mean that I had to act my age and retort an insult worthy of a jock in high school. I smiled demurely at DiNozzo. I will have my revenge later.
"Someone could have a code to the apartment, sure," I continued, like DiNozzo said nothing, "but I doubt it. It seems everyone knows everyone here. Gossip is rampant. Anyone or anything unusual would have been reported by now."
"This might mean the nephew has the code," Bethany said.
"Well, let's try it," I suggested.
Gibbs tilted his head to one side and peered at me, like he was learning about me too, and nodded in agreement. He waved his agents to one side. Bethany and I followed him and watched as he took out a piece of paper and keyed in the numbers on it. The door clicked open. We all drew our weapons and entered.
I checked to the left. "Clear!" I yelled.
Bethany was on the other side. "Clear!"
Gibbs asserted the same in the middle. His team entered gloved and began to search for clues. Bethany and I met and grouped together with Gibbs. We watched the trio call out items they found. There was a long hair strand pulled from the root, presumably from a woman. A bottle of wine and some dirty dishes remained on a coffee table. The sink used to be filled with water, but was now lined with a greasy line around and it was red.
I ignored this litany of evidence and proceeded to walk around. I put some gloves on myself and checked into other nooks and crannies. Sometimes, I stopped and observed an area. Everything did not seem out of place until I reached the main bedroom. It was locked.
I was not satisfied. Something was wrong, definitely behind that door. I called Bethany over.
Gibbs came instead. "What do you have?"
I showed him the door. "I don't see a coat hanger," I joked.
Gibbs didn't seem to be in a joking mood and glared at me with venom on his face. He tried the doorknob and called at DiNozzo to bring him something to work the lock. A few minutes later, the agent handed him a lock pick and we soon gained access. What was inside was to be expected, just not in the way we imagined.
Colonel Henderson was hanging from his ceiling by the hands. There was one shot to the head and two to the heart. He was practically naked, with only his shorts covering him.
Immediately, we went to work without bickering over jurisdiction. Bethany and I did not have equipment and had to borrow from NCIS. She drew the crime scene while I took pictures. I also called out some observations and pointed out to Bethany things she could sketch out and I could photograph. Gibbs had his team finish up in the rest of the apartment.
The female agent entered after half an hour. "We have called our ME to take the body."
"What?" Bethany looked up from her papers. "No way. This is ours."
"He is a Marine officer," I pointed out to Bethany.
"And retired and working at the Pentagon," Bethany recounted. "He is not serving now. He is ours."
I stopped what I was doing and met with Bethany. I took her to a corner for privacy. "Listen, Bethany, we have to let NCIS have the body."
My partner was not letting up. "No way! Boss said we have to bring it back to the station."
"This goes above his pay grade," I explained. "This is up to the feds. Let them have it. We can demand a joint investigation with the NCIS director."
"Oh? How can a bunch of detectives work the feds?"
"Leave it to me. I can make it happen."
"You're just a Marine brat. You can't negotiate. That's my job, junior."
I ignored her and faced the woman. "That will work. This is our scene, though. We are asking to work on the case with you."
"Your boss can work with our boss," Gibbs said as he entered again. He sipped from a cup of coffee. "Right now, you're processing this and heading out."
"No." I was adamant. "We do the work and you take the credit? I don't think so."
This was the boldest I've ever stood. I have been working cases like this since I was nineteen. I followed procedures, never argued and refused to take any credit. I was personally picked to be an officer and then passed the exam to be a detective a little over a year ago. I thought that this will be mine. I deserved that much.
There was also something about Gibbs that told me to stop and listen, though. He had a presence that reminded me of so many things – military life, steadiness and the Corps values. He was unlike my father in every way and tough, strict and fair all the same. He regarded me with respect and I swore he almost smiled.
Bethany stood in front of me to remedy the situation. "Agent Gibbs, I apologize. Detective Sullivan here does not know what she is talking about."
"I think she does," Gibbs replied confidently. "I'll have my boss handle it. Detective Sullivan, you can come with us back to the Navy Yard. Detective Athens, you can tell your boss that I am borrowing your partner until we finish."
Bethany fumed. I saw her temper flare. She opened her mouth to retort, but stopped. She knew better. I felt a frostiness from her, though. Suddenly, something had changed between us. It was thick enough to cut with a knife.
Bethany began gathering what she needed to bring back to the station. "Do you need a ride home, Lyddy?"
"I think I can manage," I told her gently. Taking my gloves off, I put a hand on her shoulder. "Listen, it'll be all right. I am sure of it. Boss will let you in, right?"
"I doubt it." Bethany's voice was so soft that I could not hear it. She turned away. "I'll see you later, kid."
When she left, I felt a hole inside of me. My stomach dropped. There was nothing I could do, though. At this point, in investigation had to move forward. Gibbs was already ordering me around, like I was one of his agents. He told me to team up with the female agent, Ziva David. We were assigned to examine the neighbors.
I rolled my eyes as Ziva joined me. I said nothing about her presence. She did the same. We walked out together without questioning Gibbs. Once we were out of sight, the two of us rounded a corner and faced each other in defense. Our feelings were mutual. We did not appreciate another alpha woman over us. We had to size each other, to see what we were up against, before we continued with our quest.
Honestly, Ziva was tough. She had an exterior that could not be breached. She held her secrets close to her heart. Like me, she did not wish to show who and what she cared about openly. That was easy. If I could not be attached and neither could she, we will work well together.
"No trouble?" she asked me.
"Of course," I reassured her. "You don't need to worry about me."
Then, Ziva took the lead. I followed closely behind her. All the while, I thought that this was a piece of cake. It required some digging and some talking, but I could make it. Working with NCIS was nothing special.