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PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 10:22 am 
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Director's Secretary

Joined: Fri Jul 30, 2010 5:47 pm
Posts: 2382
Location: Southern Tier
Name: Jennie (please NOT Jen)
Gender: Female
link: Blog
link: First Novel
AN: This was written for the Hope in the Darkness challenge at NFA. If you're not familiar with An American Tail, you might want to find "Somewhere Out There" on YouTube before you read this. :)

Disclaimer: Not mine, not making any money. Just playing a bit.


Same Bright Star

Ziva stood in the window, shaded from the street by curtains. This view was one she had missed in her time away, but she did not look out toward the skyline, the familiar buildings of her childhood, the unfamiliar gaps from destruction in her absence. Instead, she looked up at the night sky, searching for the North Star. Her father, he would be sending her out on missions before too much longer, and she would not be able to see this star on some of them. She had heard Eli, Michael and Malachi discussing Somalia, and she wondered if that would be one of their missions, or if it would take longer for that target to ripen.

She remembered the first time she had seen the North Star as more than just a navigational aide. It was two years ago, the day after they realized Gibbs had gone to Mexico. Jenny had given them the weekend off, but Abby was so upset, none of them thought she should be alone. None of them wanted to be alone.

"Team bonding," Tony said. "We'll do something together, all four of us."

Abby shook her head. "I don't want to go clubbing."

Ziva nodded her agreement. "I would prefer something quiet myself."

"I have an idea."

They all turned to look at McGee.

"Spit it out, McThinker." Tony leaned on the edge of his desk. None of them would go near Gibbs' desk.

"It's going to be easier to show you. And we can't do it for a few more hours." McGee paused. "Everybody needs a jacket, and jeans would probably be best."

Ziva shrugged, willing to go along. "Why do we not all go home, and then meet someplace for dinner."

McGee shook his head. "No, I have a better idea. Go get changed, then let's meet at Tony's." He turned to the older agent. "We'll take my car — it's the only one big enough for all of us to fit inside."

And that was the only thing McGee would tell them until they met up and he moved a picnic basket from the back seat of his beat-up Chevy to the trunk.


~NCIS~NCIS~NCIS~NCIS~NCIS~NCIS~



Tony stepped out onto the carrier deck of the Ronald Reagan, his NCIS jacket keeping the chill of the evening water from sinking into his bones. Night traps were done for the day, and if anybody asked, he was just learning his way around the massive ship. His new beat. He remembered walking the beat in Peoria, the only department where he had done that for any length of time. You got to know the people, kept an eye on the ones likely to cause trouble, headed off as much of it as you could. Tony flinched, memories of the trouble he hadn't been able to head off too fresh in his mind. He said he was up because he was walking the beat. Nobody had to know it was because he saw Jenny's body every time he closed his eyes, saw the blood-soaked ground beneath her in the diner.

He squashed that down, pulled on the smile he'd perfected over the years. Just a smiling frat boy, that was him. He nodded and smiled as members of the carrier crew passed by, glad the ear protectors gave him reason to avoid conversation.

Tony managed to find a spot that was quiet, no crew to disturb him. As he did, he looked up to the sky, remembering

"McMystery, where the hell are we going? You've been driving for almost an hour." Tony glared at McGee, but he had his eyes on the road, so the effect was lost.

"You'll see, Tony. Eat. You know you want to." McGee's voice was quiet, but certain.

It wasn't until they were far out in Loudon County, far enough that they could see signs for West Virginia, that McGee pulled over along the Potomac. They climbed out of the car and McGee led the way to a wooded path, a bundle under his arm. Tony couldn't help checking to make sure his gun was on his hip. Just in case.

About 50 yards down the path, a clearing off to the side had a view of the river and the sky above it. McGee stopped and spread out the bundle — a blanket — on the ground. "Come on," he said, sitting down and removing his sneakers.

Abby dropped down next to him, snuggling against his side, the way she had done with all of them since Gibbs left. Tony shrugged and joined them, then waited for Ziva to take the space in front of the trio.

"What are we doing, McGee?" Ziva asked.

"First, we need to let our eyes fully adjust," he said. "It's going to take a few minutes."

Sure enough, after a while the moonlight and stars seemed to light the rocks and trees in and along the river. Tony let himself relax for the first time in four days.

McGee wrapped his right arm around Abby, and used his left to point to the sky. "Up there, that's the Big Dipper."

"Ursa Major," Abby said. "My dad used to take us to watch the stars when we were little."

Tony wondered what that would have been like, if he'd had a normal dad who did normal dad stuff.

McGee's next words interrupted his thoughts. "See the two stars at the end of the dipper? Follow them down, where they line up with that bright one, the tail of the Little Dipper."

Tony searched, tipping his head to one side then the other, before he could isolate the star. "Why that star?"

"It's the North Star, Tony." Abby shifted over until she was leaning against him. Like McGee, Tony put an arm around her so she could snuggle close.


~NCIS~NCIS~NCIS~NCIS~NCIS~NCIS~NCIS~NCIS~



Abby walked behind the convent, through the gardens the sisters kept blooming and beautiful. As much as she was a scientist, she believed in faith, too, and dreams and wishes. She had paced the garden after dinner, her fingers tracking the prayers of her novena on the wooden rosary beads, a rosary passed down through her family. Gibbs had promised to get the team back, and she was meeting Timmy for lunch tomorrow, but it wasn't the same.

Keating wasn't anywhere near Timmy in the computer skills department and Timmy had never been that green in the field. Langer was too slick after spending time at the Hoover Building — he wasn't the agent she used to like working with when he was on Team Gibbs. And Lee was even less sure of herself now than she had been when she was on the team two years ago. Gibbs was snapping and snarling and had taken to hiding in her office so he could growl without Vance seeing, then leaving because he couldn't take all her pictures of Tony, Ziva and Timmy everywhere.

Abby sank down on a bench as she finished the final prayer. She looked up to the sky, her eyes easily finding the North Star, her mind drifting back to that night.

Abby leaned against Tony as he located the star. When McGee started talking, she could barely hear him.

"When I was a kid, my dad taught me all the constellations, especially the North Star because it was for navigating. It was something we both liked and could share." McGee paused. "The first night he was deployed when I was old enough to realize what that meant, Mom took me outside at night and we found the North Star. She told me Dad could see it from his ship, too, and if we both watched it together at night, it was like we were sitting together and watching it, like we did when he was home."

"Awww." Abby reached over and hugged McGee. "That's sweet, Timmy." She could feel him shrug.

"Tony, do you remember that movie, An American Tail? It was a cartoon."

"Yeah, the one with mice. Don Bluth. First non-Disney cartoon to become a hit."

Abby let McGee go. "I took my brother, Luca, to see it three or four times — he loved it."

"There was that one song," McGee said. "Fievel and his sister are both singing it at the same time."

Abby nodded and started singing, "Somewhere Out There." After a few lines, she was surprised to hear McGee join in.

"And even though I know how very far apart we are

It helps to think we might be wishing on the same bright star

And when the night wind starts to sing a lonesome lullaby

It helps to think we're sleeping underneath the same big sky"



As they finished, the four were silent for a minute before McGee spoke.

"After Mom took us to see that movie, and the song was on the radio all the time, I started singing it when I'd go out and find the North Star, thinking Dad was looking at it from wherever he was." Abby felt him shrug, and leaned up to kiss his cheek.

"That's sweet, McGee." She smiled. "Mexico's in the Northern Hemisphere, so Gibbs can see the North Star from Mike Franks' beach." She pictured him, the cuts and scrapes all over his face, the look in his eyes when he had pressed a finger to her lips, and then swallowed around the lump in her throat.


~NCIS~NCIS~NCIS~NCIS~NCIS~NCIS~



McGee finally made it out of the CyberCrimes basement for the day, rubbing his eyes. Even the long summer day had finally ended, the sky dark. He walked out to where the Barry was berthed and looked across the water. Behind him, the glow of the city lit the sky. Even over the Potomac in front of him, there was enough residual city light that he couldn't pick out the stars, but he knew where the North Star should be, and looked toward it.

He understood a little of what Vance was doing with moving him, but he still didn't know what else was going on and how Vance's reassignment of Tony and Ziva fit into things. McGee wanted to talk to Abby about it tomorrow, but knew he couldn't. All he could do was hope they could get this finished and get the team back together quickly.

As he gazed into the distance, he began humming.

Two years ago, the team would get together once a week, someplace it was was dark. They taught Ziva the song, and the four of them would take a picnic and watch the stars, imagining Gibbs on the beach in Mexico seeing the same star as they did.

They had never brought Lee along, or even Jimmy. Ducky had picked up on the fact they had something, but he never asked, and McGee had never shared. He didn't know if the others had or not.

The four of them had gone out every week until Gibbs came back. They never talked about it, never told Gibbs after he returned. Until this week. After Vance had broken up the team, they went to tell Abby. Gibbs had stayed, no doubt ripping Vance a new one.

"Gibbs will fix this." Ziva started putting things in a box on her desk. "We will be back together."

Tony nodded as he passed his Mickey Mouse stapler from hand to hand. "Abbs, you'll keep us posted, right?"

She nodded and swiped at her eyes. "Don't forget about our star."

"We'll be there, Abbs." McGee started unpinning the photos behind his desk.


~NCIS~NCIS~NCIS~



"And even though I know how very far apart we are"

Ziva tried not to think about how far away America and Washington were as she began to sing.

~NCIS~NCIS~NCIS~



"It helps to think we might be wishing on the same bright star."

Tony kept his voice low so as not to attract attention. He wasn't going to let the sailors mock the one thing keeping him sane until the Boss could get them back.

~NCIS~NCIS~NCIS~



"And when the night wind starts to sing a lonesome lullaby."

Abby let her voice rise, the breeze carrying it through the garden as she imagined it traveling around the world to Ziva and Tony so they could hear her.

~NCIS~NCIS~NCIS~



"It helps to think we're sleeping underneath the same big sky"

McGee stood there long after he'd finished singing, leaving only when he heard a car in the parking lot behind him. He turned to see Gibbs' pickup pulling out, and wondered if his new team was working a hot case or if Gibbs was just being his usual obsessive self. He headed to his own car and decided that as long as it got them back together, it didn't matter.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 12:17 pm 
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Loved it. My kids watched that movie all the time on video so I remember it well. The characterizations were spot on and loved the way you wove the different timelines together. :clap: :clap: a great entry.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 12:22 pm 
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This was beautiful, Jennie. :) I read it and had to think about what I wanted to say, lol. I really loved the "bonding" and how it was just the four of them. It wouldn't have been right for anyone else to be there. Lovely story. :)

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 2:16 pm 
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Director's Secretary

Joined: Fri Jul 30, 2010 5:47 pm
Posts: 2382
Location: Southern Tier
Name: Jennie (please NOT Jen)
Gender: Female
link: Blog
link: First Novel
Thanks, ladies. This was a fun story to tell - the Hiatus parts weren't part of the plan, but they just showed up as I was writing. I ended up liking it. Except for some minor typo-type edits, the final version was basically the same as the first draft. It just kind of flowed.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2012 10:42 am 
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Director's Secretary

Joined: Fri Jul 30, 2010 5:47 pm
Posts: 2382
Location: Southern Tier
Name: Jennie (please NOT Jen)
Gender: Female
link: Blog
link: First Novel
Have to add this update. The story was inspired by the song. And the song is important to me because my best friend moved away not long after the movie came out. I couldn't hear this song without wondering what happened to him. I'd sit on my bed and look out at the stars and wish we hadn't lost touch. This week, after almost 25 years, we reconnected. We've spent the week catching up on 25 years and are talking about getting together when our schedules allow - either when he's down this way for work or I'm up his way visiting Kyrie.

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