Category: Drama, Romance, JAG/NCIS Crossover
Spoilers: Through "One Shot, One Kill" (NCIS), "Crash" (JAG)
Disclaimer: These characters belong to DPB, CBS, Paramount, et al. No infringement is intended.
Chapter 8: The Conversation
"Damn it, Marcella, she's my daughter, too!"
His wife--soon-to-be ex-wife--glared at him. "No, AJ. I gave birth to her. I raised her. She is my daughter. You weren't around for the first two years of her life. Vittorio is a good man, AJ, and he will raise Francesca to be a good woman."
He closed the car door. Laura Delaney smiled and waved from the porch. "Laura? What the hell are you doing here?" he barked.
She laughed. "I'm making some homemade chicken noodle soup. My mother always said it was a cure for all ills."
"I told you not to come here," AJ said worriedly. "It's not safe!"
"AJ, you can't push me away forever. We need to talk about this." She started down the steps.
Suddenly, a loud crack echoed through the air. A terrified look crossed Laura's face as she teetered on the step. "Don't move!" AJ yelled.
Too late--she fell over. A landmine exploded. AJ ran toward Laura. He pulled her into his arms. "No!"
"Sign here, sir." AJ took the pen and signed the paper. "Have a nice day, sir." The courier left, and AJ opened the envelope.
'Dear AJ...' He smiled humorlessly. Nice day? Highly unlikely. Of course, he should've expected something like this--Sydney had always been overly protective of her son.
AJ opened the bedroom door and smiled indulgently. His fiancée lay on the bed, sleeping. He stood in the doorway, watching her.
The bathroom door opened. A dark-haired man wearing a robe stepped out. "Meredith." He had a thick Italian accent.
She opened her eyes and looked around. When her eyes landed on AJ, she sighed and closed them again. AJ stared at Meredith, stunned. He backed out and closed the door softly behind him.
AJ's eyes snapped open. He sighed and rolled over, staring at the ceiling. Damn dreams. And damn the woman who had brought them back.
Kate was an amazing woman. After their confrontation and her aborted attempt to leave, she had looked him straight in the eye and calmly asked what they were having for dinner. He chuckled quietly. She certainly had guts, he'd give her that much.
When he had finally gotten his anger under control, he considered what she had told him. Given the evidence, there was no reason not to believe her story. He frowned and wondered exactly what had driven Kate to the bar that first night. It must have been pretty horrible--she had been injured badly.
They had spent the day in comfortable silence--after he apologized for being an ass. Kate accepted his apology with grace, then picked up the clothes he had offered her and changed.
AJ had almost forgotten how nice it was to have companionship, especially during an unexpected blizzard. He had fixed dinner while Kate started a fire. They ate in front of the fireplace and talked about how their... relationship? ...friendship would be affected by their careers. They agreed to just go with the flow, so to speak.
At the end of the night, Kate had given AJ another soft kiss before retreating into the guest bedroom. That had been nice, as well.
A soft noise attracted AJ's attention. He sat up and listened more closely. It almost sounded like... sobbing. He stood and softly crept out of the room. As he moved closer to the guest bedroom, it became louder. AJ knocked. "Kate? You okay?" There was no answer. He opened the door. "Kate?"
The woman tossed and turned on the bed. "Don't!" she cried.
AJ was at her side in a moment. "Kate. Wake up, darlin'. Come on, Katie." He shook her shoulder gently.
A hand shot out and grabbed his wrist. Kate bolted upright. AJ winced. "Kate? Do you think you could let go now?"
She blinked and released her vise-like grip. She took a shuddering breath. "S-sorry."
"Quite all right. Something wrong?" He mentally slapped himself. Of course something was wrong.
"Nightmares," she replied tersely. "I can handle it."
"You want to talk about it?"
She sighed and rubbed her eyes. "Have you ever had nightmares that you just couldn't get rid of? Worse yet, they're not just nightmares--they're memories?"
AJ chuckled sardonically. "Oh, Kate, you have no idea."
"God. The explosion--it's just as bright as it was in real life. And the fear is five times greater. Why can't I forget about it?"
"You want to start from the beginning?" AJ asked, completely lost.
She smiled self-deprecatingly. "That's probably a good idea. A couple of months ago, we were working on this case. A woman had been admitted to Georgetown University Hospital who had amnesia after being buried alive. The only thing that she could remember was that there had been a bomb planted on a Navy ship."
AJ interrupted, "Wait. Why haven't I heard about this?"
She gave him a tired look. "Are you going to listen to the story or not?"
"Please, continue." He sat on the bed beside Kate. She slid closer to him and rested her head on his shoulder.
"Anyway, when the doctors heard this, we--me, Gibbs, and Tony--were called in to investigate. Gibbs sent me to the hospital to speak with the woman. One thing led to another, and I sprung her from the hospital and brought her home with me." Kate smirked unhappily. "Of course, I stupidly end up getting attached to the victim. While we're trying to recover her memory, Gibbs and Tony are working on where the bomb is. They end up running across a murder victim." Kate paused. AJ remained silent, patiently waiting for her to continue. "They investigate some more. The murdered man and the amnesia victim both worked for the same company--one that created software for bomb sniffing devices. The amnesiac--her name was Suzanne, by the way--made bombs to test the devices. It turned out that she had been having an affair with the CEO of the company. He had sent the murder victim to break up with her for him. She had killed him. She ended up killing her lover and herself as well."
"The explosion?" AJ asked gently.
Kate gripped his hand. "She had created a formula so volatile that it would explode if you dropped it. And she did. She looked right into my eyes when she did it." Kate swallowed. "I nearly got my teammates killed because of my stupidity. I'm a trained profiler, for God's sake--I should've known something was wrong." She hung her head.
AJ brushed a lock of hair out of Kate's face. "It's not your fault, Kate. People make mistakes." A sob escaped her lips. AJ pulled her into his arms silently and let her cry.
Finally, she calmed down. "I--thank you," she said hoarsely. "I think I needed that."
"Yes, actually." AJ moved, and Kate tightened her grip. "Will you stay with me? Please?"
AJ knew he should go back to his bedroom, but he couldn't resist her gaze. "Of course." He slipped beneath the blanket. Kate snuggled up to his chest and closed her eyes.
"AJ?" she mumbled.
"Yeah?" he murmured back.
"What are your nightmares about?"
He was silent for a moment. He responded, "I'll tell you another time. Sleep now."