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.
Author's Note: Since the chapters were so short, I've combined AJ's and Kate's points of view for the next two chapters.
Chapter 18: The Unexpected
"Any questions?" AJ removed his reading glasses and leaned forward, propping his forearms on the desk.
"No, sir," Colonel MacKenzie replied. Commander Rabb echoed her.
He was interrupted by the intercom. "Excuse me, Admiral?"
"What is it, Coates?" he demanded impatiently.
"There's a Ms. Todd on the line for you, sir. Should I tell her to--?"
"Put her through." AJ picked up the telephone. "Kate?"
"Hello, AJ. I'm sorry to disturb you at work, but..."
"What's wrong, Kate?" AJ asked, concerned. Her voice sounded strained.
"I can't make it to dinner tonight. I have to go to Los Angeles. My flight leaves in a few minutes."
"My father... he..." Kate took a deep breath. "My father had a heart attack yesterday. He died this morning."
AJ rubbed his forehead. "I'm sorry, darlin'," he said gently. "Is there anything I can do?"
Kate sighed. "I wish..." She trailed off. "I have to go now, AJ. My plane's boarding."
"All right. Call me when you get to LA."
"Okay. 'Bye," Kate said softly.
"Goodbye, Kate." AJ hung up the phone. He sat back in his chair and stared at the desk blotter. He heard a voice clear.
"Admiral? Is something wrong, sir?" He looked up into the concerned gazes of his senior officers.
"Yes. Yes, there is. Commander, you're dismissed." When Harm left, AJ turned to Mac. "Colonel, fill in Commander Turner about the case--he'll be taking over."
Mac nodded. "May I ask--"
"You'll be filling in for me." AJ pressed the intercom button. "Coates, get the SecNav on the line," he barked. "And book me on the soonest flight you can get to Los Angeles."
"Aye, aye, sir," the petty officer replied.
"Colonel, do you know Porter Webb's phone number?" AJ asked.
"Uh, yes, sir." Mac's brow furrowed for a moment, then cleared. "You think she may know what's going on with Agent Todd, Admiral?"
AJ shook his head grimly. "I already know what's going on. I'm just hoping she'll be able to fill in the blanks for me."
"But Mr. Secretary--"
"I'm sorry, AJ. I can't let you go until Wednesday." AJ restrained the urge to curse. 'Goddamned bureaucrats.'
"Mr. Secretary, I have not once asked you for a favor for myself. I need to be there for a friend, sir."
Secretary Sheffield sighed. "I'm sorry, Admiral. I truly am. If it were up to me, I'd fly you there myself. But my hands are tied. I promise that as soon as working hours are over on Wednesday, you can leave for LA."
AJ snarled silently, but replied, "Thank you, Mr. Secretary." He replaced the phone in the cradle gently, resisting the urge to throw the thing across the room.
He strode to the door and threw it open. "Coates, change my plane reservation to Wednesday evening."
"Aye, aye, Admiral." The yeoman picked up the telephone and dialed.
Kate paid the cabbie and climbed out of the taxi. The cabbie got out and opened the trunk. He handed Kate her suitcase. "Thank you," Kate said quietly.
"No problem," the man replied. As he drove away, Kate turned to look at the house.
It had been so long since she had been home. It looked exactly how it had all those years ago, when she had left for school. However, things would never be the same.
Kate walked up the steps and rang the doorbell. It swung open, and Kate smiled at the woman who answered. "Kate, don't you stand on that doorstep!" the tiny housekeeper scolded. "You get in here!"
"Hello to you too, Rosa," Kate replied, dropping her suitcase and hugging the woman.
"Oh, I'm so glad you're home. I'm just sorry for the reason. Your father--may he rest in peace--was a good man."
"He was, wasn't he?" Kate said softly.
"You go ahead into the parlor. Your mama's in there, calling people. I'll put your suitcase in your bedroom."
"Oh, you don't have to do that!" Kate exclaimed.
"Don't argue with me, missy. Get!" The gray-haired woman pointed, and Kate obeyed.
She pushed open the door to the parlor. Someone had turned on all of the lights in the room. Her mother was on the telephone. "Yes, dear. I know. The wake will be held on Thursday. Of course; we have plenty of room. Come when you can. Goodbye, Dan." She hung up. "Caitlin! Darling, it's so good to see you again." She stood. There was no sign of tears in her freshly made-up eyes. Of course. Todds never showed weakness if they could help it.
"Hello, Mother," Kate said, embracing her.
"Please, have a seat. Dinner will be ready in an hour, but would you like something to drink?" Her mother sat gracefully, befitting her name.
"No, thank you. Is there anything I can do, Mom?"
The older woman shook her head. "No, Caitlin. You could keep Robin company, though--Jeff's so busy with the funeral arrangements. He's just like your father." Her lip trembled slightly, but she controlled herself.
"Yeah, I know," Kate replied. Jeff had inherited their father's type A personality--neither had known when to step back and let someone else do the work.
Except for now. Her mother was either going to freeze her out or disown her. Both of which she could survive, but would still hurt. Anyway... she had to try.
"Mom? Has Jeff talked to you about Lisa lately?" The way the woman tensed said everything. Lisa and their mother hadn't spoken for years. The third child was a touchy subject in the Todd household.
"No, dear. I assume she's coming for the funeral?" Whatever else anyone said about Grace Todd, she was cool under pressure.
Kate nodded slowly. "Jeff's invited Kelly Gordon, as well. Lisa's partner." If Lisa herself was a touchy subject, her sexual orientation was taboo.
Kate's mother pursed her lips, but nodded. "Of course. I'll arrange for a room for her."
Kate sighed. "Mother, you may as well save the space. You'll have to face it sometime. Lisa's gay, Mother, and nothing you do will change that." Grace started to pull away from her elder daughter. "Mom, it's time to forgive. Please."
"Caitlin, you know why I can't do that."
"Jesus, Mom!" Kate cried in frustration.
"Caitlin Elizabeth!" Grace rebuked. "Language, young lady!"
"Sorry, Mother," Kate muttered. "But can't you see that the world hasn't ended just because Lisa's a lesbian? She's happy, Mom. She's with the woman she loves, doing a job she enjoys."
"Running that... nightclub?" Grace scoffed.
"That nightclub, as you so sneeringly put it, is doing well enough to open another one in New York. Something you would know if you ever talked to Lisa. She's a really good businesswoman, Mom. Dad would've been proud of her."
Grace was silent. The Todd women might have been stubborn, but they knew when to fold. "I'll try," she relented.
Kate hugged her mother. "Thanks, Mom. Now... who else do we need to call?"