mrwubbles: (NCIS Sniper Gibbs)
[personal profile] mrwubbles

1. "The coffee's mud. Their OJ is like battery acid. The pancakes are good though. Get the pancakes."

Spoilers: Dialogue from 7X24 "Rule Fifty One"

| 1992 |

Mike wasn't surprised when he opened his door. He didn't blink. Since Pendleton, since he accidentally left that file on the desk (he must be getting old and forgetful and all), Mike figured he would see the gunny again. Hell, he expected that razor-toothed pup to come back with sand up his ass and a fire in his gut days ago. He read the NIS report from Macy: one drug dealer scumbag by the name Pedro Hernández was found shot and killed in his vehicle, shot from a hell of a distance away.

Well, damn.

Mike stowed the report away, closed three of his cases, pissed off two senator aides, made one more enemy out of the Hoover building, charmed the senorita in HR and waited. But he knew the gunny was going to take his time; he was unpredictable, didn't do what was expected. Leroy Jethro Gibbs only did what he thought was right.

Mike considered the scrap of anger and defiance standing at parade rest under his doorway. He stood with his high and tight only starting to grow out, still looking all spit and polish even in his button down shirt and jeans. Mike clamped his teeth over the dying stub of his cigarette. He chewed the filter thoughtfully.

"Back again, Marine?" Mike drawled. He got was a blink and a glimmer of realization that maybe showing up at 0700 on a goddamn Saturday morning wasn't such a bright idea.

"Not anymore." Gibbs stuck out his chin. "It's done." His shoulders straightened, as if he was bracing for what was next. Incoming and the gunny figured it was pointless to duck. Mike nodded to himself with approval.

"Not what I heard," Mike said gruffly. He didn't step aside to let Gibbs in. Gibbs didn't ask. The gunny stood on his step and Mike knew even if it was raining hell almighty, Gibbs would still stand there.

"No such thing as an ex-Marine," Mike continued, "that's forever."

Gibbs laughed to himself, his face screwing up like it hurt. "Right…"

Mike pursed his lips. He eyed Gibbs. He spat out his cigarette, snuffing it out with a hard twist of a boot heel on it. Mike jerked his head to the side, towards his beat-up jeep parked one wheel up on whiny Perkins' trimmed lawn.

"Come on."

* * * * *

West Saratoga and Marion skirted the edge of a shrinking downtown Baltimore. The area was too far away from Inner Harbor to cash in on the wide-eyed tourists taking pictures of rowhouses older than him. The area was also still trying to decide if it wanted to be a charming place of old bricks or a shiny eye sore full of office buildings. Driving around bulldozers half-done with tearing up roads was a pain as well.

And there, under a church steeple's shadow, past the unspoken border of Charles Street, across from some new coffee house that looked like everyone else's, was ole Liberty's Diner.

It wasn't much now. Hell, Mike figured it hadn't been much even when it first opened. It saw the last World War, survived the Sixties and the hippies and looked like an old Amtrak train car someone pissed on. It didn't fit the area's ambitions. But the food was cheap—a rare thing these days—and the steeple's shadow cloaked it so on certain days, it looked all pretty and nostalgic-like, not dented and crappy.

Mike parked his jeep in front of its deliveries driveway, stuck his NIS parking permit behind the windshield. Not that Metro recognizes it. He'd been hoping someone would take the pathetic tin can away, but so far, no one was dumb or desperate enough to steal it.

"I have MREs in my pack, sir," Gibbs commented after he gave the diner a once over.

"Don't call me 'sir'." Mike grumbled. "I work for a living." He glowered at the gunny over his shoulder.

Gibbs' face was suspiciously bland when he replied, "Whatever you say, sir."

* * * * *

Mike took the booth at the back corner. No one stopped him, the waitress only giving Mike a nod as she patrolled up and down the tight aisle, scanning for empty mugs to refill. His job never allowed him to become a regular here, but the diner was often empty so they didn't care where he sat.

The red rubbery texture stitched to look like leather creaked under Mike when he dropped into the seat, his back to the window, facing towards the door. Gibbs paused by the table edge; he was going to take that position. At least the desert sands hadn't rotted all good sense out of him.

Mike grunted, gesturing towards the seat in front of him.

Gibbs slid into the offered seat without a sound. He sat there, his eyes on Mike, his mouth set like he's holding back whatever he was going to tell Mike.

The diner was quiet even though it should be the breakfast rush. Mike could hear snatches of conversations about the opening ceremony in Albertville; some still reveling the Bills' defeat by the Redskins. He scoffed to himself. A part of him was envious though. Most his conversations these days were over dead soldiers and who was trying to blow up whom.

Mike reached over for the laminated oversized menus corralled between the ketchup and mustard bottles.

"The coffee's mud," Mike announced as he peeled the menus apart. He caught a whiff of dried maple syrup before he passed one menu over to the gunny. "It'll do if you don't care about your stomach and you like getting slapped in the face."

"Not particularly hungry right now," Gibbs muttered. He turned over the menu, but Mike suspected it was more out of Parris-schooled politeness than actual hunger.

"Their OJ is like battery acid," Mike went on over him. He shrugged. "The pancakes are good though. Get the pancakes."

Gibbs ordered steak and eggs.

Smart ass.

Mike waited until their food arrived: a steaming stack of buckwheat cakes topped with a melting scoop of salty butter. He could see Gibbs tracking him as he cut a wedge of pancakes with his fork, drown it in thick, smoky sweet smelling maple syrup (place gets real syrup but only has the girly pink fake sugar packets). Mike makes a point to jam a bite big enough to be two into his gaping mouth. He chewed exaggeratedly and points to the steak and eggs with his fork.

"Should have gotten the pancakes."

Gibbs made a sound bordering on insubordinate. He jabbed into the yolks and watched the yellow liquid ooze all over his steak. He smeared a toast tip across the goop and chewed off the dripping golden corner.

Mike made a face as he gulped down some coffee. He slapped a hand over his mug when the waitress approached.

"Just get me a beer instead, sweetheart," Mike called out. He glanced back at Gibbs. He folded his arms across his chest.

"Not even gonna ask you where you've been." Mike scratched his bristly jaw. "Guess the question is, where you going?"

Gibbs' fork hung above his plate. He opened his mouth, shut it, then opened it again, but all he could offer was a subdued "I don't know." The gunny went back to his food; up and down like a damn robot. If the food was bad, Mike doubted he noticed.

Mike watched until Gibbs finished his toast, coating it all with yolk and tearing off pieces like a stray dog, then setting them aside. The gunny screwed up his face, raised his fork but never took a bite. Grief twisted an appetite. Didn't matter if you got your blood or not. Can't shake off grief like a coat.

When it looked like Gibbs was about to do the same to the slices of steak as he had his toast, Mike scoffed loudly. He tossed his fork onto his plate.

"Look at you." Mike shook his head. "All self-loathing and misery." He grunted as a cool, sweating beer bottle was set down with the check. He popped the cap, curled his hand around its sweating neck and took a long draught. "You make me sick." He raised an eyebrow at Gibbs. "Come here to mope?"

Gibbs grimaced. He studied Mike with an intensity Mike knew came from a sniper's eye. Whatever the gunny saw must have surprised him because Gibbs' eyes widened then lowered, his brow knitted in thought. He took a deep breath, his mouth twisting to a smirk that was more self-deprecating than smug.

"Nope." The gunny set down his fork and met his gaze squarely. "Came for a job."

Mike had lifted his beer when Gibbs finally spoke. He sputtered. "My God, you really want to be a cop?" He set the bottle down with a thump. He arched an eyebrow at him. "You got to let a lot of old stuff go," Mike warned. "Learn a lot of new stuff to take its place. Think you can do that?"

The shadows that trailed Gibbs retreated, enough to reveal a determined glint. If it weren't so goddamn early in the morning, Mike would be impressed.

"I think," Gibbs told him in a quiet voice, "I'd be a good cop."

Mike studied the tensed jaw, the grip around Gibbs' fork. He shrugged.

"Ah hell," he grumbled. Might as well keep you where I can see you. He eyed the coffee-stained check the waitress had set down with their food. He wadded it up and tossed it over to Gibbs, who caught it like it was a booby trap.

"In that case, you're buying," Mike declared. He grinned, baring his teeth. "Probie."

Gibbs eyed the check, shrugged then chucked it back his way.

Mike snorted.

Hell, the gunny would do just fine.

| next |

Date: 2011-09-21 01:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I loved this story. It was ingriguing how the family's Sunday dinners didn't happen on Sundays and their dinners were mostly takeaway but they were still together as a family.

Lovely job.

Date: 2011-09-23 11:40 pm (UTC)
alidiabin: (Family)
From: [personal profile] alidiabin
What a wonderful beginning, I like how you are including Mike. I can't wait to read more.

Date: 2011-09-26 10:22 am (UTC)
sinfulslasher: (abby approves)
From: [personal profile] sinfulslasher
Great beginning! (And I can't even stand Franks! LOL!)

Perfectly in character! And typical Gibbs being stubborn. *g*

Can't wait to read the next part! *scurries off*

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