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PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 7:01 am 
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A Place for Everything
by channelD



written for: Nat, as a Haiti Relief auction ficlet
rating: FR13
genre: drama, mystery
characters: Jackie and Leon Vance
prompt: Nat requested a prompt of lost the remote
A/N: This ran a little over ficlet size, Nat...sorry!

- - - - -

Saturday, 4 p.m.

Where is it?

Where is it?

Where IS it??!!


Jackie Vance ran her household with military precision—although she had never been in the armed forces, she was more Marine than her Marine husband. Order ruled in the Vance home: neatness mattered, life lessons (like ‘just say no! to drugs!’) were learned by rote, and there was a place for everything. To her despair, though, the living room TV remote control was not in its assigned place.

“Hello, honey.” Her husband, Leon, came in the front door, and after waving back to his detail that everything was okay, strode forward and gave her a kiss. “You look frazzled.” Then his eyebrows furrowed as the big screen TV caught his attention. “What on earth is that?”

“It’s called Spenser Muskrat’s Space Mysteries,” Jackie sighed, following his gaze at the garishly animated, fairly loud TV show. “The station must be having a marathon showing today. It’s been nothing but Spenser Muskrat for the last four hours.”

“I didn’t realize you were such a fan,” Leon said, wondering what else his wife had been hiding from him.

“Don’t be silly. The kids had this on before they left to go swimming. I don’t think anyone over the age of 10 is seriously expected to like this.” Seeing her husband’s smirk, she added, “I would have turned it off long ago, except I can’t find the remote control!”

“It’s not in its place?...Of course not, or you wouldn’t be looking for it.”

“The kids didn’t take it. I called the YMCA and had the kids check their backpacks. They say they don’t have it.”

Leon smiled. “Jackie, then we do just like our parents did. My dad used to say that the only exercise he got was in getting up to change the channels on the TV.”

“This is 2010, Leon, and a high-end model. No buttons on it.” Seeing his frown, she added, “And there’s more. Before you say, ‘Let’s just unplug it,’ don’t forget that you’re having the SECNAV and a few other boys over tonight to watch the football game on TV. I don’t think they’ll want to see Spenser Muskrat.”

Eyes wide, he then started moving. “Let’s start looking everywhere…even the places you’ve already looked.”

- - - - -

6 p.m.

Three FBI agents arrived; the detail that would protect the house’s visitors (which included the FBI assistant director). “Hey! SpenserMuskrat!” Agent Tom Berkins remarked. “My kids are nuts about that show!”

“After six hours of it, I’m feeling a little nuts myself,” Jackie grumbled, over her husband’s mild “Honey…”

Leon seized an opportunity. “We’ve misplaced the remote. If you agents see it anywhere around…and it’s always possible that our progeny took it outside, to see if it would work on the garage door…please let us know right away.”

“Ah. No buttons on the set,” Agent Cheri Alfonso said with a smile. “And the cheeses are coming here expecting to see football. Whooo.” At Leon’s glare, she said, “I’ll just go walk the perimeter, I think,” and hustled out.

The third agent, and the one in charge, Wilbur Sosa, was more sober and practical. “When did you last see the remote, Director?”

“Jackie?” Leon turned to his wife.

She thought. “Not since this morning, I don’t think. No, wait, last night I turned on that new military drama that Leon and I both like. After that, we turned off the TV and went to bed. I think only the kids used the remote today.”

“Has anyone else been in the house today?”

“We had an electrician come in. We have a slowly-moving renovation of the den going on.”

“Which rooms did he have access to, ma’am?”

“It’s a she. Eleanor…I can’t remember her last name. This is the second time she’s been here. Nice young woman. She came in the front door, and went straight to the den, which is down the hall, there.”

Leon caught Agent Berkins’ eye. “Check with the electrician’s company. Find out what you can about this Eleanor.”

“Leon, why would that nice young girl want to steal our TV remote? That’s ridiculous!” said his wife.

“It may be, but for now, it all seems suspicious, Jackie.”

- - - - -

7:45 p.m.

With the guests due to arrive in minutes, and Spenser Muskrat still coyly solving galactic mysteries in his spaceship, Jackie, who almost never lost her cool in front of anyone but her husband, was ready to tear her hair out. How dare this children’s show upset her cultivated sense of style!

Leon as well was beginning to sweat…just a little. As a last resort, he would have the agents help him move in the TV from the master bedroom, but that would look odd in place of the big screen TV. Where was that danged remote??!

The electrician company was able to provide contact details on Eleanor, but repeated calls to her phone went unanswered. There wasn’t enough to go on to warrant sending an agent to her home in Maryland.

Then the Vance’s young daughter, Lily, came out of her room, a doll in hand. “Mommy, I just ’membered. Jarod and I were playing, and he put the remote in the hidey-hole.”

“The what?” asked Leon.

Jackie brightened. “The hidey-hole. That’s what the kids call that little pouch on the back of the TV where the user manuals go.”

“It’s not there, now, Daddy,” Lily insisted. “Unless Eleanor put it back.”

All eyes turned to the little girl. “Why did Eleanor have the remote, Lily?” Leon asked.

“I dunno. She said she wanted to see it, so we got it out for her.” As her attention wandered, Lily waltzed off with the doll.

Sosa clicked on his phone and called for a team to go pick up Eleanor.

The guests were arriving.

Lily pranced back in a moment later, a remote in hand. “Silly Daddy and Mommy! I watched Eleanor work in the den. I ‘member now, she did bring the remote back here, and put it back where Mommy says it goes.” She scowled at the remote and shook a finger at it. “Bad Mr. Remote! You should know better than to not be in your special place!”

“Yes, Lily. Thank you,” said Jackie, her voice dropping to a whisper. “Now give that to me and run along, dear. You should start getting ready for bed.”

“Mommy…” Lily whispered back. “I’m sorry. I ’member now. I put the remote back in the den. I’m sorry.”

“Hey, cartoons before the game, Leon?” the SECNAV chuckled as Jackie took his coat. “Reminds me of the old days at the movie theatre. Bugs Bunny, Betty Boop, Tom and Jerry…”

Leon’s mind was still turning. “Why did Eleanor want the remote? She put it back, assuming we’d turn off the TV…or change the channels at game time…”

Jackie shrugged. “Two minutes to the game. I’ll change the channel now.”

Change the channel…

“Jackie! No!!!” Leon screamed and tackled her, ripping the remote from her hand and racing with it to the door. Sosa was just as quick, however, and snatched the remote from Leon, bounding out the door with it and throwing himself on top of it.

“Everyone out!!” Leon grabbed his daughter and wife and raced out the back door, the guests just a pace behind.

An explosion rocked the house, and the grounds.

- - - - -

9 p.m.

As dozens of FBI agents combed the scene, Jackie stood on the sidewalk, in shock, each hand grasping a child. Leon came up to her. “Honey, Gibbs is here. He’s going to take you and the kids to his house. You’ll be safe there.”

“This is my home, Leon,” she protested weakly.

“Our home. And it will be again. The damage was contained to the living room, but we can’t stay here tonight.”

“What about you?”

“I’ll get over to Gibbs’ later. We’re going to be busy for awhile yet.”

She met his eyes with sadness, and he knew what she was thinking but couldn’t say in front of the young children. The poor Agent Sosa. Leon didn’t know anything about the man. He’d worn a wedding ring; that they could see. Besides his widow, did he leave young children, too? So many questions. Why had Eleanor planted the explosives in the remote and the TV? Who was behind this?

It was obvious that the bomb had been on a timer, designed to go off after the guests had arrived.

The only grace in all of this was that a small child’s forgetfulness brought attention to a missing remote control…something that would otherwise never have been noticed in time.

Jackie gave her husband a one-armed hug. Thank heavens for family.


-END-

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 7:14 am 
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I never ever would have thought of something like this. Great story. :yes:

They can be glad tony wasn't there. Otherwise they would have heard every detail about that program.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 8:06 am 
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Wow, Pam, that's fantastic! I love it! :flirtysmile: I never expected a whole mystery with the Vance family. Super!

Thank you so much!

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 9:55 am 
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That was great! It was a rather extreme twist on the theme of losing the remote (which with small children constantly happens in my home). I loved everyone's reactions to the cartoon as they walked in the door, frantic Jackie, Vance's death glare, and Lily saying bad Mr. Remote!

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 11:19 am 
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Lol, Tamara! Yes, Tony probably could give a commentary on every episode. :D

I'm glad that you liked it, Nat! I didn't expect a mystery either when I started writing, but that's the direction that the story took. :) Thanks for your donation! :)

Thank you, Andi! I'm not even sure how old Lily is supposed to be; I hope she's not too old to say "Bad Mr. Remote". ;D

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 1:00 pm 
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Wow. That was excellent, Pam. I was wondering why you were labeling it a drama/mystery when it was rather funny to begin with. Wonderful job!

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 1:08 pm 
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Wonderful, bravo :clap: :clap: :clap:
I didn't know at first why you had other agents instead of Gibbs' team, but it was a great story with an amazing twist. Well done.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 1:59 pm 
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Thanks! I wasn't sure what to call it. What should one label a story that starts out somewhat humorous, and then has everything go wrong as it turns deadly? I don't know. Maybe I'll bring that up in the Conference Room.

I didn't want Gibbs' team there as I wanted to keep the focus on the Vances. I'm trying to remember now...in that episode with the poker game at someone's house (the one to which Vance wasn't invited)...were those NCIS agents who were on duty, or FBI agents? I wonder how, in RL, agencies decide who does what in mixed groups like the one here.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 2:12 pm 
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channeld wrote:
Thanks! I wasn't sure what to call it. What should one label a story that starts out somewhat humorous, and then has everything go wrong as it turns deadly? I don't know. Maybe I'll bring that up in the Conference Room.

I didn't want Gibbs' team there as I wanted to keep the focus on the Vances. I'm trying to remember now...in that episode with the poker game at someone's house (the one to which Vance wasn't invited)...were those NCIS agents who were on duty, or FBI agents? I wonder how, in RL, agencies decide who does what in mixed groups like the one here.


Pam, the episode was "Semper Fideles" by Jesse Stern, and it was the ICE agents who had the protection detail. And Julia Foster Yates, the ICE agent in charge, made a play for Tim. (Didn't trust her. She wasn't nearly nice enough for him.) As I recall, the CIA supplied alcohol, the FBI brought snacks, and SECNAV provided the meeting place. (He has a very nice house. Either he or Mrs. SECNAV has money.) I got the feeling these duties rotated with every poker game. So the team guarding the Vances might not even have been NCIS agents--they could have come from the FBI or the CIA or ICE, depending on whose turn it was to do protection. But if it was the CIA, Jackie had better count her spoons when they leave.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 2:16 pm 
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:rofl: Okay, I was reading this very intently and soberly until I got to the last line, and nearly choked on my chicken and dumpling soup. Oh, Nat! Yes, agreed about counting the spoons. Heh heh heh... ;D

Thanks for the details. I'd forgotten that the agencies were sharing tasks. It comes back to me now about the ICE agents. (Man; that's the coolest -- no pun intended -- name around!)

Jules is absolutely not good enough for Tim. Uh-uh. No siree. :no:

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 2:26 pm 
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I knew you'd remember Jules. Grrrr.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 2:35 pm 
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Wow! I would have never thought up something like this from a missing remote prompt ;D Very well done! :clap:

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 3:40 pm 
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How could I forget Jules? My first reaction, on seeing her, was, "Run, Tim! Run!!!" >:-(

Thanks, Colleen. :curtsey:

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 3:47 pm 
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Wow! I have been utterly amazed by the quality of the Help Haiti one-shots that are being written, and this is no exception...great use of the prompt, and the contrast between humour of the search for the remote and ‘Spencer Muskrat’...with the race to escape from the house, the explosion, and poor Agent Sosa...wonderful!!

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 4:11 pm 
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Thanks, Nat! :)

I know I've been very impressed with the "Help Haiti" fics I've read so far. Everyone's putting their heart into it. Also, I think writing new things (such as different characters, or prompts one wouldn't normally use) can be like an infusion of fresh air.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 31, 2010 11:25 pm 
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Well, that was thrilling. ;D As soon as they suspected the electrician of being up to no good and then the remote just appearing out of nowhere, I kinda thought it would be rigged to explode. And poor Agent Sosa. :( I don't like it when people have to die in stories, unless they're bad guys. :P But yes, lovely lovely. :)

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 31, 2010 11:32 pm 
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I'm weird (but you knew that); I'm not comfortable writing character deaths for the regular cast, but I can kill off OCs without a backwards glance. :P

I'm glad you liked it, though! :)

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 31, 2010 11:57 pm 
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I liked this, but I'm still not clear as to the reason for the explosion. Are you considering expanding this into a longer story? And it's probably just me...I haven't been sleeping well.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 01, 2010 12:03 am 
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Do you mean, why the assassination attempt, or why there were explosives in the remote and the TV?

If it's the first, I don't know who was behind it. If it's the second...eh, plot device. I wanted Sosa to make a sacrifice. I know I'm kind of thinly dancing on technology here, but I was hoping that no one would look too closely at that. ;D

I doubt it will be expanded. I have too many things to write as it is.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 01, 2010 12:05 am 
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No worries. :) I meant the first, as to who was behind it. :) Just curious, and I totally get why it won't be expanded. It was perfectly nice just as it is. :yes:

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 01, 2010 12:09 am 
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Thanks. :)

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