Sadness hung over the Washington NCIS Headquarters like dark clouds, and Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs' team felt its effects, even Anthony DiNozzo, the class clown. Better known as Tony, he had lost many men in his line of work, but Caitlin Todd, who he had known as Kate, had been a woman, one that had been a very good agent. Even Tony could admit that.
Timothy McGee was much in the same spirits, which wasn't very spirited at all. All he could manage to think about was how the team, the family, would never be the same again, and it didn't seem the least bit odd to him that Tony wasn't cracking any kind of clever jokes about McGee's choice of leisurely activities, which were primarily writing fiction and playing computer games, nor did it seem odd that Tony wasn't making any references to old movies.
The two of them did nothing but sit at their desks as the rain fell outside, sounding like small pellets of glass hitting the window. Even Abby Scituo, the forensic specialist, didn't have a lot to say, and she was usually as chipper as a bird on a rainy morning, and it was a very rainy morning. She may have been wearing a bit more eyeliner than usual, and her hair was tied in pigtails on the sides of her head, her black short-sleeve shirt depicting a very large white skull with crossbones on the front. Abby was sitting at Gibbs' desk, and about ten minutes passed between their arrival and Gibbs' entrance into the room.
“Gibbs,” Abby said, looking up from his desk as he neared. She had perked up a bit.
“Abby,” he said. He wasn't really a man of many words, and if the black blazer that he frequently wore didn't ward people off, then his steely blue eyes usually did. However, he had a soft spot for Abby, who was very much like a daughter to him, him a father to her.
She stood up from the desk and looked at him intently.
“Abbs?” Gibbs said icily. “What is it?”
“I know that I'm going to sound crazy,” Abby proposed, “but there may be a way to bring Kate back.”
Unsure of what to say, Gibbs simply waited for her to continue, and she cleared her throat before continuing.
“For years now, there have been scientific indications that parallel universes are out there. You know, like, other worlds that have other versions of people, people like you, me, McGee, Tony, and, well, you know, Kate.”
Understanding was now recognizable on Gibbs' face, and his frown line became much more pronounced than it already was.
“Abbs,” he said calmly, “you're right. It is crazy. Kate's gone, and that's something that we have to accept. Our job now is to find Ari.”
“But Gibbs,” Abby began, but she was cut off by McGee.
“Abby,” he said, standing up from his desk and approaching the two of them at Gibbs' desk, “even if accomplishing something like that were possible, and I'm not saying that it is, it wouldn't be our right. That Kate would belong there. Besides, it would fundamentally rupture the nature of the universe as we know it.”
“I know,” she said, although she sounded desperate, “but I don't necessarily want to steal her. I just want to tell her everything that I never got the chance to, and we wouldn't do it alone. In fact, we couldn't, but I found someone who could, someone who has.”
Both Gibbs and McGee looked beyond puzzled while Tony stayed at his desk, observing with interest but remaining silent.
Abby lifted a manila envelope from Gibbs' desk and took out a printed sheet of paper, a profile. She handed it to Gibbs, and McGee took a peek at it from Gibbs' side.
“His name is Dr. Walter Bishop,” Abby explained as the two men looked the profile over. “He can help us.”
“Abbs,” Gibbs said patiently, “this guy was incarcerated in an institution for seventeen years.”
“Yeah,” Abby said, nodding, “I know, but he works for the FBI, specifically Fringe Division, with his son and a female agent named Olivia Dunham, and apparently, he has been really helpful.”
“What you're suggesting is beyond insanity,” McGee argued, looking at Abby with both care and confusion. “Abby, I miss Kate, too. We all miss her, but this is crazy.”
“McGee,” Gibbs halted.
“But boss,” McGee started, but Gibbs cut him off with a glare that said more than enough.
“I'll make a call and set up a meeting,” Gibbs said to Abby, handing Bishop's profile back to her. “In the meantime, take it easy, Abbs.”
Smiling, Abby put the profile back in the folder.
He nodded, and she left the room, heading to the elevator.
“Boss,” McGee reasoned when Abby was gone, “you can't possibly believe this is possible.”
“No,” Gibbs replied, “no, I don't, McGee, but if going to see these people is going to make Abby at peace, then I'm not going to deny her that. We need her.”
McGee nodded and returned to his desk.
Gibbs went to the NCIS conference room and picked up the phone, dialing the number of one of his best friends, FBI Agent Tobias Fornell.
“Tobias,” he said after Fornell picked up, “I have a favor to ask.”
“Why does that not sound like a very promising proposition?” Fornell asked.
“It can be whatever you want it to be, Tobias.”
“What is it?”
“I need you to tell me what you know about a branch of the FBI,” Gibbs explained. “It's called Fringe Division.”
“Honestly, Gibbs,” Fornell argued, “what would you expect me to know?”
“Well,” Gibbs reasoned, “whatever you don't know, I'm sure you can find out.”
Fornell sighed and then finally said, “I'll see what I can do.”
The line went dead, but about a half-hour later, as Gibbs was at his desk, Fornell called back.
“Fringe Division's small,” Fornell explained, sharing what he had learned, “very small. It's basically run in a lab in the basement of a Harvard building by an FBI agent Phillip Broyles, used to be a colonel. His team consists of Agent Olivia Dunham and two consultants, Peter Bishop and his father Dr. Walter Bishop. They're assisted by Agent Astrid Farnsworth.”
“What is their purpose?” Gibbs asked.
“To investigate the scientifically unexplainable,” Fornell replied, and Gibbs could hear typing on a keyboard. “Dr. Bishop has a history involving the use of Fringe Science. He was placed in a mental institution for manslaughter. His lab assistant, Dr. Carla Warren, was killed in a lab fire.”
“So, this is a legitimate FBI operation?” Gibbs asked.
“From what I can tell, yes,” Fornell said impatiently. “Gibbs, why are you looking into this?”
“If I need anything else,” Gibbs dismissed him, “I'll let you know. Thanks, Tobias.”
He hung up the phone, and finally, Tony spoke up from across the room, still sitting at his desk.
“Boss,” he said quietly, “what's going on?”
Gibbs sat up from his desk.
“We're going to Boston,” he said, as if it had already been made clear. “That's what's going on.”
The next day
“Harvard?” McGee asked incredulously. The three of them were around Harvard Yard, heading toward the building directly in front of them.
“Yep,” Gibbs replied, “in the basement.”
“A lot of hot stuff around here, Probie,” Tony teased McGee. “You sure you can handle it?”
McGee glared at him. “Tony, not now.”
“What?” Tony responded defensively. “Boss, you said this guy, Dr. Walter Bishop, was locked up for seventeen years in the loony bin.”
“Show some respect,” McGee countered.
“Enough,” Gibbs said, concluding the argument.
McGee and Tony ceased their bickering, and the three of them, now inside the building, headed down the stairs until they found a young woman sitting with a young man on a bench outside of a room. The woman was very beautiful, wearing a woman's black business suit, her long blonde hair tied back in a ponytail. The man was also very attractive, with short brown hair and a small amount of facial hair, wearing blue jeans and a black leather jacket over a striped blue and white button-up shirt. The two of them had obviously been talking, but they immediately stood up when they saw the three of them approaching.
“Hi,” the woman said, smiling pleasantly and extending a hand, “I'm Special Agent Olivia Dunham. Agent Broyles told us that you'd be stopping by.”
Gibbs shook her hand. “Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs, and this is my team, Timothy McGee and Anthony DiNozzo.”
“So, have you, uh, Dunham yet?”Tony asked Olivia, his head gesturing toward Peter.
Olivia began to say something, but McGee cut in, which wasn't entirely necessary, because the cold, angry expression that Gibbs had on his face was certainly far from unbeknownst to Tony, and although Tony was a little more focused on Gibbs at the moment, the man standing with Olivia didn't look too happy, either, looking at Tony like a vile creature.
“Don't mind him,” McGee said.
“I'll try not to,” the man said coldly.
“You must be Dr. Bishop's son,” McGee said, trying to change the subject, as well as the mood, for that matter, “Peter Bishop.”
“That would be me,” Peter said as he walked toward the door and opened it, stepping in. “Come on in. Welcome to the creep show.”
“Oh, oh!” Walter yipped. “Our guests are here! Here, here, I made muffins!”
Walter had a tray of blueberry muffins and offered the muffins to the NCIS team, Tony taking one as he received another cold glare from Gibbs.
“Sorry, boss,” he said, his mouth full.
“I spent all morning make sure that the recipe was right,” Walter said excitedly, an older man with short curly gray hair, with cream-colored pants and a red button up-shirt on under a cream-colored overcoat.
“So,” Peter interjected, “how can we be of service to you gentlemen?”
“Well, honestly, we're not sure that you can be of any,” Gibbs replied, “but we have a member of our team back home, Abby Sciuto, who seems to think that you can be of some.”
“How so?” Olivia asked curiously.
“Well,” McGee said straightforwardly, “this is probably going to sound insane, but she seems convinced that you know something about a parallel universe.”
“We don't mean to waste your time,” Gibbs added, “but Abby's invaluable to us, and we just lost a team member, Kate Todd. Abby is probably taking it the hardest out of all of us, and we need her to be focused, especially now. We simply figured that we could calm her down a bit by seeing you.”
“Gentlemen,” Walter replied, setting the tray of muffins down on a nearby table, “what she says is true.”
“Excuse me?” McGee asked, taken aback.
“However,” Walter quickly added, “we cannot do what your friend is asking.”
“Well,” Gibbs said, “she seems to think that we can, and-”
“It is possible, yes,” Walter said with a dark tone, “but to do what you are asking would cause even more damage, and taking your lost friend could cause some serious problems. You don't even know that your friend would be there. She could have died there, too.”
“Even more?” Tony inquired.
“Excuse me?” Walter asked.
“You said even more damage,” Tony explained. “What did you mean by that?”
“Gentlemen,” Walter said swiftly, changing the subject, “We cannot help you.”
“Listen,” Gibbs pleaded, “if what you're saying truly is possible, she simply wants the chance to see her one last time. That's all we're asking.”
Walter remained silent for quite some time until Peter stepped forward.
“Walter?” Peter asked him. “What are you thinking?”
“The window,” Walter said simply.
“The window,” Olivia said, nodding, her arms crossed, “the one that he showed me when he told me about you.”
The NCIS team exchanged glances, aware that they were being kept out of the loop in regards to whatever Fringe Division was talking about at the moment.
“That would be correct,” Walter said, glaring seriously at the NCIS team. “Gentlemen, we may be able to help you after all. I'll tell you how to operate the window, and I will give it to you so that you can bring it back to your friend, but you must return it, and you must not allow anyone else to see it.”
Gibbs nodded. “Okay.”
Walter nodded, as well, and with that, he walked off, Peter first looking at the NCIS team and then following Walter.
The NCIS team waited until everyone had left the office, and once they had, Gibbs entered, having brought the window up the stairs from the team's van. Only the city lights from outside and a few desk-lamps illuminated the office.
“Gibbs,” Abby questioned, standing to McGee's right,“what exactly is this?”
“You'll see, Abbs.”
“Tony,” McGee said, turning to face Tony to his left, “I just wanted to say that you were pretty well-behaved today; I'm proud of you.”
“Thanks, McGoo,” Tony replied, “I figured that I'd give you a chance with that smoking hot blonde, even though you didn't even have a fighting one.”
McGee shook his head, annoyed, but he couldn't help but smile.
Gibbs stood the window up in front of Tony's desk so that Kate's desk was seen through the window, and then, he turned the switch on and backed up, standing right next to Abby, who, looking through the window, gasped.
“Wow!” McGee exclaimed. “Boss, this could change the world. Do you realize what this is?”
“Yes,” Gibbs said, nodding, “I do, but you heard what Dr. Bishop said. We are bringing this back to him tomorrow.”
McGee continued to shake his head in disbelief.
On the other side of the mirror stood Kate, standing next to her desk putting a black jacket on. She was dressed in black leggings with a red skirt and a black and red top, her hair pulled up in a ponytail behind her head. She was smiling broadly at the team, and Abby cried, “Kate! It's me!”
“She can't hear you, Abbs,” Gibbs told her, placing her hands on her shoulders. “It's just a window. I know that this isn't exactly what you wanted, but it's the best we could do.”
It then became clear to them that she was not smiling at them but instead at who had been across from her on the Other Side, as he could now be seen in the frame, having approached from his desk.
“I can't believe it,” McGee said, and Tony was speechless.
Kate and Tony, who was dressed in a black suit and red tie, were hugging. Kate's smile was utterly forgettable, beautiful, and as the two of them kissed and then walked away, Abby was thinking that it was no different than it had been there.