AUBB Story: The Ties That Bind by Lyndasty, Art by Xocoatldreams, Rated PG-13/R
Fandom: NCIS/Syfy's Alice
Rating: PG-13/R (mainly for allusions to violence)
Warning: Mentions of violence (off screen but the descriptions are graphic).
Word Count: 19,616
Summary: Set after the events of Syfy's Alice. When Jack Heart, King of Wonderland, is accused of murdering his wife, Duchess, he flees through the Looking Glass to the only person he knows can clear his name. On this side of the Looking Glass, Abagail Sciuto, forensics expert for NCIS, is hiding a past that is coming back to haunt her courtesy of her little brother, Jack.
Part 1/Part 2
The afternoon went by as slowly as the morning had and Abby was happy that she'd made a dent in some backlogged paperwork on her desk. Ducky strode in confidently around 5:45 and they waited for McGee to join them. Abby called her brother just to check in on him and was happy to hear that he'd apparently found a martial arts movie to keep his attention occupied. He'd asked to speak to Ducky but Abby saw McGee heading for them so she cut the conversation short.
"Hey Timmy. Ready for dinner?" Abby tucked the cell phone back into her jacket pocket and started powering down her computer as she'd already powered down the rest of her equipment. She didn't miss the questioning look Tim shot her and Ducky but he didn't say anything just yet.
"Sure...as soon as you two tell me what's up. First you go to lunch together and now you're inviting me to dinner?" McGee crossed his arms and put on his best patiently impatient face. Abby kept her back to him but she stopped shutting down the computer and, instead, called up a program she'd written this afternoon to loop video from her lab back into the security system, ensuring that they could speak freely without anyone overhearing them. In fact, the only person who would've been able to even detect, let alone crack, the program was standing in her lab with her. Abby turned and nodded to Ducky; she'd told him that she was working on a way for them to talk without raising suspicion earlier.
"Timothy, you might want to sit down. We have a lot to tell you." Ducky moved to stand in front of Abby's desk, Abby moving to his side.
"Timmy, you know how you've always said I'm something special?" Abby smiled her brightest smile at her friend and couldn't suppress a giggle when his cheeks flushed red. McGee's mouth opened and closed like a fish out of water and Abby held her hand out to preempt anything he was about to say. "Well, you're right. Actually, you're more right than you ever could've thought you were."
"Okay..." Doubt colored Tim's voice and it wasn't lost on either of his teammates. He looked back and forth between them, only to be met with confusion on both of their faces.
Abby and Ducky sighed and looked at each other. "This is going to be even more difficult than I'd anticipated." Ducky shook his head.
"What do you think we should do?"
"Ask your brother."
"Jack?" Tim latched onto the only thing said that he could understand and was rewarded by two surprised looks. "It's just that I've heard you talk about him...in your sleep...once..." He fell silent again as the conversation between the other two people commenced.
"What could he do? I mean all he could do is tell him the same things we can..." Abby was getting less and less optimistic as they talked.
"We could show him. That would convince him." The older man was reserved, even for him, and put a reassuring hand on Abby's arm when she began shaking her head no. "My dear, that's the only way we can convince him. He needn't see Jack. We'd only be there a short time. In fact, we'd only be gone from here less than an hour."
"But what if something happens? What if somebody's waiting on the other side for us and takes us hostage or something? What then, Ducky?" Abby began to pace. Pacing always made her feel slightly more in control when faced with an uncontrollable situation.
"Other side? Other side of what? And why would someone want to take you hostage?" Tim asked but wasn't answered. Ducky had his back to the younger man and was concentrating on calming down Abby.
"That's why I said to ask Jack. He'll know how well guarded the portal is, if it's guarded at all. Think of it this way, Abby. We can tell them, Tim, Jethro, Tony, and Ziva, everything but unless we can show them, prove it to them, it won't matter. These are trained investigators whose top rule is not to believe anything until they can see it with their own eyes." He gotten her to stop pacing and look at him but there was fear and trepidation in her eyes. He glanced back at the young agent sitting behind the desk as he moved slightly closer to Abby.
"I haven't been back there in years, Ducky. I can't..."
"Can't what? Can't go back to Wonderland? If we're to prove anything for Jack, you'll have to go back eventually."
"Eventually, yes. But multiple times? No. I can't. Too much can go wrong." Abby crossed her arms and hugged herself. The bad feeling that had been with her on and off since Jack's call yesterday was back and worse than ever. She hadn't even begun to psyche herself up for the trip to Wonderland and now Ducky was suggesting more than one trip? She felt a tear slide down one cheek and quickly swatted it away.
"I know, my dear. But think of your brother. He needs you and, in order to help him, you must trust not just yourself but us, too. I'm not suggesting a long stay with Timothy but just long enough to prove, borrowing a saying from another not-so-fictional book, he's not in Kansas anymore." They laughed at the joke. At least they could get to Wonderland without having to summon a travel storm, unlike the O.Z.
Abby stopped laughing as she realized that Ducky had a very good point. She knew that she'd have to go back to Wonderland and she knew showing her friends Wonderland would be infinitely easier than telling them alone. She nodded her acquiescence and turned towards McGee.
"Timmy...do you have any unbreakable plans for tonight?"
An hour, one phone call, and a lot of avoided questions from McGee later, Abby and Ducky lead Tim into a deserted warehouse. He kept up a steady stream of questions about where they were, where they were going, shouldn't they call and let anyone know where they were going but McGee's questions fell on deaf, or at the very least ignoring, ears. Abby and Ducky didn't speak much between the two of them, relying, instead, on communicating through shared looks and just the knowledge of how potentially dangerous their outing was.
"Okay...why are we standing in front of a mirror? What the hell is going on?" McGee put on his most annoyed voice which, even he had to admit, was weak. Abby turned to look at him with a sheepish grin, as did Ducky.
"Okay, Timmy, the important thing to remember is to breathe. What I'm..." Abby stopped as Ducky cleared his throat. "Sorry, Ducky. What we're about to show you is gonna be a shock but keep an open mind, okay? We won't let anything bad happen to you." Abby moved to McGee's right side as Ducky moved to his right. They each took one of his hands and they pulled him towards the mirror.
"Are you..." Tim's frantic words were swallowed as they passed through some sort of soft barrier. He closed his eyes and tried to breathe but his breath was forced from his lungs as he collided with his friends in an all together different, but just as deserted, room. Tim coughed and looked around. Abby and Ducky didn't seem to be at all phased by what had happened. The room was dusty but still looked regally decorated. Where the hell were they?
"Wonderland." Abby's voice echoed in the empty room and the echo scared Tim. He hadn't realized he'd spoken out loud.
"That's because you didn't. I'm mildly telepathic here." He looked at her quizzically. "I can even project my thoughts into your mind."
"Stop that!" The younger man snapped and started taking mental notes of the room. He turned around, wanting to get a 360 degree mental map of the room but stopped when he saw the mirror. "Didn't we...wasn't that...I'm so confused." He leaned forward to touch the mirror surface again when Ducky got between him and the mirror.
"You mustn't do that until we're ready to return. You'll fall haphazardly through the portal with no way to control where, or when, you land. Only Abby can do that." Ducky stood proudly and nodded at Abby.
"Wait a minute...you said we're in Wonderland. That's ridiculous. Wonderland's a fictional place in a child's storybook." Tim glared back and forth between his friends.
"Does this look like a kid's story to you?" Abby was shocked at the British-sounding accent her voice had taken on. She hadn't sounded that way since she'd been banished but she couldn't stop the grin that spread across her face. "Come on, McGee, we've got a lot to show you." Abby grabbed his hand and practically dragged him out of the room and into the hall.
They stopped in front of a wall of windows overlooking the oddest city Tim had ever seen. The entire city was, seemingly, supported by tree-trunks. He craned his head to look up but all he could see were clouds and even more buildings. He walked down the hall, looking out the windows and back and forth between his friends.
"It's good to see the scarabs aren't flying anymore. Those things always scared me," Abby said nonchalantly as Ducky nodded, saying something too faint for Tim to hear. He didn't ask Ducky to repeat what he'd said because, well, Tim didn't know if he'd understand or even believe it if he had heard. Tim heard one word he knew, or he thought he knew.
"Oysters? What does seafood have to do with anything?" He scrubbed his hands over his face, almost willing himself to wake up from this strange dream. Tim opened his eyes and sighed when the scenery hadn't changed and his friends were giving him their most compassionate looks.
"Oysters are what your kind are...well, were...called here. My mother came up with that term since the level and variety of your natural emotions were like pearls to her. She used to arrange for people from your side of the Looking Glass to be brought here and taken to her casino to have the emotions drained from them and sold to Wonderland citizens as highly addictive teas." Abby looked sad all of a sudden and McGee was worried until she smiled and hugged him in typically Abby fashion and he remembered she could tell what he was thinking.
"Okay so this is Wonderland...and you're from here. Next thing you know, you'll try to tell me that your mother's the Queen of Hearts and that she really does go around saying 'off with their head'!" McGee laughed but he was the only one. He looked to Ducky nervously, waiting for the older man to join him in laughing but he didn't. Instead, Ducky took his elbow and lead him to a door Tim could've sworn wasn't there a minute ago. Abby walked silently up to the door and opened it, motioning for them to step inside first.
"My mother was Mary Elizabeth Constance Devillias Heart, Queen of Hearts and Wonderland. I was her first born, Aceline Devillias Willemina Heart. My brother is Jack Frederick Heart, her second born. Jack, along with a girl named Alice, lead a coup to overthrow my mother and she was sent into exile where she, apparently, died. Jack is now the rightful King of Wonderland." Abby led them to a small monitor that Tim thought looked remarkably like a television set and placed a book on the other side of it. The screen lit up and McGee was shocked to see a girl who looked exactly like all the pictures of a young Abby, but with red hair, playing with a little boy with platinum blonde hair. The girl laughed and Tim knew immediately that the girl was Abby. Nobody else could laugh with such abandon as she could.
The picture changed and he saw an older woman standing in front of what could only be described as a throne, her bearing regal but her face was sad. He could see the girl off to one side, two men standing on either side of her looking very serious at the older woman.
"It is with a sad heart but clear conscience that I, Mary Elizabeth Constance Devillias Heart, Queen of Hearts and Wonderland, order Aceline Devillias Willemina Heart to be put to death for treason and subversion. Follow that, I name Jack Frederick Heart as my sole child and heir to the throne of Wonderland."
Tim watched in horror as the little platinum blonde boy cried and ran from his handler while the girl stood proudly under the callous eye of her mother. He wanted to turn away from the awful scene in front of him but Tim watched on as the girl was lead from the room, through the throng of people gathered in her mother's court. Her mother didn't give her a second glance and the girl didn't look back. The screen went dark and Tim turned to look at Abby.
"But you didn't die...because here you are. You're still alive. What...how...Abby? I mean Ace...what's your name?" McGee hated that he was stammering and he instinctively went and hugged Abby, even though comforting people wasn't his forte.
"My name is Abby. I'm the same Abby you knew yesterday, McGee, just with a little more backstory. And no I wasn't put to death. My father couldn't let his only daughter be killed for innocently asking a question. So he arranged to have his personal guard from the White Rabbit smuggle me through the Looking Glass. My parents had been here before and the Resistance had smuggled them out, too, so he arranged for me to live with them." She paused to let Tim wrap his mind around everything he'd just seen and heard. He walked back towards the door they'd come through.
"Can I...I can go back through here, right?" Abby nodded and Ducky opened the door for him. McGee went to the window and looked out. Abby knew what he was doing. Tim, while open to Abby's eccentricities, still needed to see things with his own two eyes before he could believe them. She followed him out and leaned her back against the wall, watching her friend the whole time.
"Ducky, what if this is more than he can handle?" She projected to the older man. He shrugged slightly and nodded back towards the young investigator. Abby got the hint and looked back at her friend. She thought about listening for his thoughts but she knew what an invasion that could be and her second inclination was to wrap her friend in a hug. She started towards him but stopped short when she saw Ducky shake his head no.
"Timmy?" She opted for talking but silence was his only answer. She sighed and let her head drop to her chest as a tear slid down one cheek. She sniffled as she wiped it away absently. Abby was pleasantly startled when she saw Tim's brown boots appeared in front of her black ones and she looked up at him expectantly.
"Don't cry, Abs. I can handle just about anything other than you crying." McGee pulled her into a tight hug and Abby instinctively relaxed into him.
"Thank you, Timmy..." Abby sighed as he let her lean back away from him. She was happy to see a tentative acceptance in his eyes and a smile instantly broke out across her face.
"Don't thank me yet. So why did you bring me here and show me all this?"
Abby steered her friends towards a table just behind them so they could sit through what could be a very long story. Tim listened attentively as Abby, and Ducky, told him of Abby's brother and the terrible fate that had befallen him.
"So, lemme get this straight. Your brother, Jack, is actually the King of Hearts and, by default, Wonderland and has been framed for the murder of his wife, the Duchess of Diamonds. He came back through the Looking Glass to find you in hopes that you'd be able to convince us to prove his innocence. Have I got the basic gist of things?" Tim looked across the table the trio were now sitting around and studied his coworkers, who both nodded enthusiastically.
"That's basically it. So...what do you think?" Abby's smile hadn't faded in the slightest and even Ducky wore a cautious grin.
"I think...well, honestly, I think Gibbs, Tony, and Ziva are gonna think you're as nuts as I did when we first got here. Your best bet is to bring them here." Tim folded his hands in front of him.
"We'd already thought of that, Timothy. We have to be careful not to make too many trips through the Looking Glass while at the same time bringing enough equipment with us to solve this mystery," Ducky said solemnly.
Tim went about making a list of equipment they'd need, and that could be transported easily, to solve Duchess's murder and they made their plans on how to get their other team members through the Looking Glass with the lowest error rate. They made their way back to the Looking Glass and McGee looked on in wonder as Abby touched several nearly invisible sensors on the side of the portal.
"She's setting the controls so that we've only been gone an hour," Ducky whispered quietly. Abby turned and motioned for them to follow her closely as they went back through the Looking Glass.
The more Abby, Ducky, and McGee worked on getting equipment secreted away and get their stories straight, the more they realized that the easy part of their task was done. Once the equipment was gathered and deposited at the Looking Glass, it was decided that Abby would stay at the portal, after fetching Jack from her apartment, while McGee and Ducky were in charge of convincing Gibbs, Tony, and Ziva to come along to the warehouse.
"Jack, we're here." Abby's voice was quiet as she woke her brother out of his shallow nap. She noticed that he slept better when he wasn't alone. She watched him carefully as he scrubbed his hands over his face. Jack looked around skeptically but relaxed as soon as he saw the all-too-familiar comforting look on his sister's face. He knew he should trust Abby's co-workers but he didn't know them.
"Are you sure your friends will help you? I mean, will they believe that I'm innocent?"
She took a deep breath and closed her eyes. She wished so badly that she could tell him that her team would believe him implicitly but she couldn't. McGee already believed him, as did Ducky, but they were the easy ones to convince. Gibbs, Tony, and Ziva were the cynical members of their team and would be harder to convince.
"We'll make them believe you, Jack, I promise. Now come on...the sooner we get inside, the sooner Tim and Ducky can go get the others," Abby tugged at Jack's sleeve before getting out of the car, pausing only long enough to make sure her brother was following her.
The siblings headed into the warehouse, Jack walking slightly behind Abby. She heard Ducky muttering something about Wonderland to Tim, probably answering potential questions the younger agent had before they had to face Gibbs and his infamous gut. She turned back and gave Jack a sympathetic grin before looping her arm with his and pulling him into the room with the Looking Glass portal.
"Hi Timmy, Ducky. This is Jack, my brother. Jack, this is Timothy McGee," Abby motioned to Tim and prompted Jack to shake Tim's offered hand. She was genuinely happy to see Jack relax and Tim smiled at the both of them. "And this is Dr. Donald Mallard, formerly of the White Rabbit."
Jack backed up quickly and went on the defensive. "Are you out of your mind?!" Jack's voice was strangled and he looked back and forth between Abby and Ducky.
"Jack, calm down..." Abby reached out to her brother but he flinched out of her grasp.
"Your Majesty, please don't be frightened. Yes, I was in the employ of the White Rabbit but that was decades ago. I saw firsthand what that organization did to my parents, my mother in particular, and want no part of them anymore. Please, allow me to use what they taught me to help clear your name. It would be an honor to help." Ducky kept his distance but spoke solemnly and reverentially. Abby watched her brother visibly relax and move towards Ducky.
"Mallard...I recognize that name. Your father was one of our mother's most faithful White Rabbits. He was put to death when he refused to tell the Queen where you and your mother were. I'm sorry," Jack held out a hand towards Ducky and the two men shook hands. Abby relaxed completely and smiled.
"Okay well there's not much we can bring with us because of the gap in technology but we've got a couple of basic microscopes, Ducky's medical bag, three laptops, two cameras, and Abby, I grabbed your forensic field bag." McGee went over the inventory for their investigation. Abby grabbed her field bag possessively and sat down on the case with the microscopes in it.
"And now, if you will excuse us, Timothy and I have quite a final task to complete before we can leave for Wonderland." Ducky sat his medical bag next to Abby and gave her a quick peck on the head.
"Good luck you two...knowing Gibbs and Ziva, you're gonna need it." Abby's heart sank a little as she realized exactly how difficult it would be for her friends to convince the more cynical of their team mates to go along with them.
"What do they need luck with, Abby?" Gibbs' voice echoing from the shadows made Abby jump straight up and in front of her brother.
"Gibbs! Is it impossible for you to make some kind of noise when you walk?!" She squeaked as she saw the shadowy figures of Ziva and Tony coming from diagonally behind Gibbs and on the defensive.
"I asked first. What's going on? Ducky, McGee..."
Ducky, Tim, and Abby all threw nervous glances at each other, nobody knowing who should, or would, talk first. Abby took a deep breath and moved slightly away from her brother.
"Gibbs, I need you to believe me and really listen to me. I would never lie to you or deceive you in anyway. You believe that, right?" Abby implored and when Gibbs' stance relaxed slightly, she continued. "You've heard me refer to my brother, Jack, in passing right?" Gibbs nodded almost imperceptibly. "Well, this is my brother, Jack." Abby pulled Jack out from behind her. "Jack and I aren't from here."
"I know. You're from New Orleans. I've met your parents, remember."
"You met my adoptive parents. Jack and I are really from a place called Wonderland." Abby stopped to let her words, hopefully, sink in. The silence seemed to bounce around the otherwise empty warehouse. Tony was the first to break the silent monotony with a laugh.
"C'mon, Abs! Wonderland is just a place in a fairy tale!"
Abby straightened up to her full height and gave Tony her most merciless glare, channeling what she could remember of her birth mother. "I wouldn't be so quick to make that assumption, Anthony. I do not take kindly to being accused of lying, especially when it comes to my brother and my origins." She was both pleased and upset as she saw her friends flinch from her cold tone. She walked forward to come face to face with Gibbs, who wasn't budging so much as a millimeter. Abby was glad she'd decided to straighten her hair and wear her most severe, yet regal, black and red goth-style business suit.
Ducky, sensing the tension between Abby and Gibbs, stepped up and pulled them away from each other and moved between them. "Jethro, I assure you that Abigail is completely serious and not in any way, shape, or form making any of this up. You've known me for years, my friend, longer than you've known any of our young colleagues. If you can't trust Abigail, then trust me."
The tension is the room was obviously making everyone nervous but neither Abby nor Gibbs were backing down. Gibbs looked from Abby to Ducky and back before letting his shoulder relax. The tension began to dissipate and Abby let out a barely audible sigh before launching herself at Gibbs.
"Thank you, Gibbs. I know how difficult it is for you to trust things just on spec and I promise I'm not lying..." Abby knew she was rambling but she seemingly couldn't shut herself up.
"Abby..." Gibbs' arms circled the young woman's waist and he tightened them protectively as he kissed her cheek before letting her step out of his grasp.
"I must be missing something. Abby is not from New Orleans but from some place called Wonderville?" Ziva shook her head, obviously confused beyond all measure.
"Wonderland, Ziva, not Wonderville." McGee started to explain but one look from Ziva shut him up instantly.
"Wonderland...as in Alice In Wonderland? I have to agree with Tony, as much as I hate to do so. That's just a child's story." Ziva laughed subtlety, careful not to let her amusement at the situation be clear so as not to upset Abby.
"You'll see. Wonderland is nothing like the story you're all so familiar with. Far from it, actually," Jack stepped forward and spoke for the first time since the remaining three NCIS agents had arrived. He looked at his sister expectantly and she smiled and nodded, signaling that she understood what he was thinking.
"The best way to answer everybody's questions is to do with you three what we did with Timmy...show you that we're telling the truth." Abby moved closer to the portal, Jack one step away from her. Gibbs motioned at Tony and Ziva to help get the cases closer to the Looking Glass as he turned towards Ducky.
"When all this is done, Doctor, you and I need to have a serious discussion about this." Gibbs saw flashes of a colorful casino, of standing at a blackjack table where he always won. Pushing back the foreign memories, he concentrated on his medical examiner.
There was no mistaking the warning tone to Gibbs' voice. "That we do, Jethro. That we do." Ducky was solemn as he, too, moved closer to the portal.
"Okay just a warning. Going through the portal is a bit much at first but remember to take a deep breath before you step through. I'll go through first to make sure the coast is clear. Unless I step immediately back through, Jack, you lead them through and Ducky, you bring up the rear." Abby's tone was no-nonsense as she looked to each of her friends for their acknowledgment. When she was certain that they understood, she turned to face the Looking Glass, took a deep breath, clutched her field kit close and stepped through.
Her footsteps echoed around the room and, for a moment, she thought there was someone else in the hall with her. Abby's stance changed to defensive as she quickly took stock of the hall, relieved when she saw that she was alone. She turned to the controls, sat her field kit down and adapted the portal to activate instantly on the other side, lining up the time lines so her friends would arrive as soon as they stepped through.
Abby watched in fascination as the event horizon of the Glass moved and churned before her brother stepped out, a laptop case on his shoulder, followed by Tony, carrying a case and a camera bag, Ziva, with camera and laptop bags on each shoulder. Gibbs was next and Abby was glad to see he hadn't come through the portal with his Sig drawn but instead he was carrying the other case. Tim came through next carrying his laptop bag and Ducky was last, carrying his medical bag.
"Whoa...that was weird...wonder if that's what it felt like to go through the Stargate?" Tony leaned on the wall to balance himself.
"Good question...hey, how do you know about Stargate?!" McGee's voice was shocked as Abby snickered. Leave it to her guys to keep their priorities under difficult circumstances.
"You must be wearing off on me, Probie Won Kenobi. Doesn't look any different..." Tony groused as he walked over to the window and looked down. "Okay maybe it does..."
"The buildings are on tree trunks!" Ziva exclaimed. She and Tony exchanged nervous glances as Abby couldn't help but listen in on what they were thinking.
"It's perfectly safe. The building's not gonna come crashing down." Abby walked over to the window and looked down. She'd never get tired of the view of the city held up by trees.
"How did you..."
"I'm mildly psychic...and stop undressing..." Abby projected into Tony.
"HEY! That's...stop that!" Tony jumped.
"Are you done having an episode over there?" Gibbs was annoyed and disoriented.
"Sorry, Gibbs. I was just letting Tony know that I can hear what he thinks if I try." Abby shot DiNozzo a wicked grin and a wink.
"Tell me what I'm thinking, Abs," Gibbs groused.
"Yeah, I don't have to hear what's going on in your head to know that. The reason we're here is to prove that my brother didn't kill his wife." Abby stated simply.