Whedon, et al. and Bellasario own everyone.Summary:
"You're hurt, sir," he said instead, concern filling his voice and quieting it.
Angel seemed to want to sigh but was forced to stop when that sigh turned into him audibly holding back a pained noise. "Y-you wo-ouldn't be wrong."Notes:
Gee, I feel like I was putting together a puzzle and found that one missing piece out of, like, a thousand under the couch somewhere. And then I realized there were at least nine more and cursed myself diligently.Invitation
Gibbs would later be glad he hadn't destroyed this particular cell phone yet.
The ringing had been just as annoying as usual, his eye twitching and his ears hurting at the surprising and incessant din. The vibration always made his skin burn, but everyone from DiNozzo to Abby insisted there was no way to turn that horrible function off. Damn it.
Just to keep the damned thing from torturing him any further, Gibbs snatched it out of his pocket and somehow managed not to drop it into the water around his boat.
"What?" he ground out, further pissed off that he hadn't figured out the whole thing everyone else did where they held the stupid things with their shoulders and continued what they were doing.
"Did I ever tell you your manners are atrocious, Jethro?"
Gibbs unconciously snapped to attention, this time automatically placing the fishing rod in his hand down and holding the phone with his previously occupied left hand as he frowned at the pain he could hear in Angel's voice.
"No, sir. I'm sorry, sir."
"You don't have to call me 'sir', son, I was never a Marine."
"You did serve the Navy, sir," Jethro reminded him, inwardly kicking himself because it wasn't like Angel had volunteered as he had. "Sorry, sir, you were consigned to the Navy, that's not the same."
"You act like you were the one who dragged me onto that U-Boat. You are technically right, though, I did serve the Navy -- just not of my own free will. Your grandfather was consigned, as well, it's not exactly new."
Gibbs managed not to make a face at this mention of Angel's father despite the fact that Angel couldn't see him.
"You're hurt, sir," he said instead, concern filling his voice and quieting it.
Angel seemed to want to sigh but was forced to stop when that sigh turned into him audibly holding back a pained noise. "Y-you wo-ouldn't be wrong."
Gibbs forced himself to ignore the weals of fire that licked through him at the very sound and said in a remarkably steady voice, "You need me to come out there? Bring my team?"
"No, no -- the fireworks show is over. For now, anyway, I guess. Besides, this isn't -- wasn't a human fight. Well, I mean, all -- a lot of the humans who went into it didn't make it out."
Angel's voice was audibly deadened now and Gibbs felt a sinking sensation in his stomach as Angel continued, forcing himself to speak in his normal tone. Almost. "I managed to convince Spike to get me a cell phone from somewhere. I'm fairly certain its owner is dead."
"What the hell happened, sir?"
"Angel, please," Gibbs was getting desperate, his chest tightening and causing tiny wheezing sounds to expel with every breath.
"Okay, first I need you to sit down, son. Please breathe, I'll be alright."
But Gibbs could hear Angel's voice fading in increments as he continued to talk without breath himself. He was weak. Very weak.
"With all due respect, sir, that's bullshit. You're hurt bad."
"Sit down or you won't hear a damned thing, Leroy Jethro Gibbs."
Gibbs straightened again before automatically folding into a crouched position on the bench he'd been standing in front of before.
"I'm sitting sir, as God as my witness. Please. Please tell me what happened."
"We burned the house down while we were still in it," Angel said cryptically, but Gibbs simply let it go and decided that meant everything had gone into that literal hellhole Angel had holed himself up in the previous year for his little brother's sake. "Needless to say, it came down around us."
Gibbs reached up, pinching his nose and then turning to put his fishing gear away. It was getting to be dawn anyway and anything else to be caught was going to have to wait for another weekend. He secured the latch on the cooler tonight's catch was now stored in and stilled again.
"You need anything?" Everything inside him was hoping against hope that his father wouldn't refuse to ask his help if he truly needed it.
"I -- uh, well, actually, the International Watcher's Council, that is the ICW -- er..."
"My stepmother's crew finally remembered which side you were on and decided you could use some assistance."
"Leroy." Angel's tone was cold and authoritative just now and Gibbs held back a sigh.
"I just don't appreciate how she stole that Slayer out from under you after you went through all that trouble."
"I don't know how you found out about that."
"Wesley actually knows how to use a telephone, sir," Gibbs needled, still irritated but trying to keep himself in line.
Angel was silent for a few moments and then said, "Wes is dead, Jethro."
Gibbs' heart skipped a beat and he gasped, hearing again the abject pain in his father's voice. "I..."
He hadn't been rendered speechless in a long time. He hated it. He wished he could be here, that Angel could be there, so he could hold his father's hand and help him bury his best friend. A dozen prayers in even more languages flitted through his head, but nothing would come out of his mouth.
"It's just what -- nobody expected to make it out of this alive. It's certainly nothing you should blame yourself for. Everyone else made it out -- through...I don't know. Maybe I shifted the balance of power when I drank Marcus' blood, I don't know. I broke his neck after that. That's when everything started to fall apart in the building anyway -- Eve refused to come out."
Angel muffled another moan, but insisted on continuing. "I'm pretty sure she's been crushed and, if not, the building spared her or something. Nobody else was there except for them and I. I told Harmony to get the hell out and everyone else had their assignments. Apparently they..."
Angel started to run out of air again and Gibbs ran his hand over his NCIS cap, pushing it off. He heard it land in the water and didn't care. He'd get another one. He couldn't get another father and hearing all this drove that point back home hard.
"I think...I think it m-might be easier just to list the dead. I told Connor to get out but he's so damned stubborn."
This, Gibbs was forced to laugh at despite the heavy weight sitting inside him. "Yeah, can't imagine where he got that from, huh?"
Angel laughed, just a bit, but it was enough for now.
"He's okay. He -- uh, the Reillys demanded Spike and I come stay in their guest room. Gunn's staying with a friend at her shelter. He's decided to hold out with her with the kids she takes care of until the police or National Guard or whoever removes them. He keeps complaining that it was brand new and they didn't even get to use it. To hell with his eye, though.
"I think Illyria's in the basement or something. Connor spars with her so she doesn't start trying to destroy the house, but we've got to leave anyway. Napa's not exactly a small wine-making town anymore because everyone's starting to flood the smaller cities and towns. You already know Sunnydale's a sinkhole, but L.A.'s literally burning to the ground.
"They did stop people from building tent cities around the lake
where Sunnydale was, though. The -- I don't know, the government's issued something about everyone getting out before the fumes overwhelm everyone and the humans all die. Apparently, it's not optional."
Gibbs had to suppress a small smile at Angel's obvious resentment of the edict. He knows that if he had a choice, Angel would be right back in L.A. as soon as the smoke cleared. It was his territory and he needed to do what he did best.
"Well, I'm pretty sure that if everyone gets out there won't be anyone left to protect." Please come here, Pop. Please...
Angel sighed heavily, hitching several times in the middle, and Gibbs ran a hand over his face, desperate to keep from asking, which would definitely put Angel off the idea altogether.
There was a very long pause and Gibbs found himself holding his breath, his eyes staring out into the now lightening sky around him. It was empty.
"Uh, um...son. I...I really hate to ask this, but how much spare room have you got?"
Gibbs was hard-pressed not to cheer aloud but didn't stop himself from grinning madly as he reminded Angel, "You know perfectly well how much room I've got. Bring whoever you need to."
"If I didn't know any better I'd say you were happy." Angel said hoarsely and Gibbs shook his head despite the fact that Angel couldn't see him.
"Not happy, sir. Just content."