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/Part 3
Tony, Ziva, and Gibbs exchanged curious glances before looking at the forensics expert expectantly. She looked so calm and not at all fazed by the doubtful looks being cast her way.
"You're accused of killing your wife?" Tony asked Jack, who was leaning against a window just down from where Tony was standing. He thought about moving into the man's personal space but didn't want to move too quickly just in case Abby was wrong and Jack was a killer.
"Yes I am. But, and I'm sure you hear this routinely in your profession, I did not kill Duchess. I found her stabbed to death in our apartment after working for a considerable length of time on a pet cause of mine. There are plenty of people who saw me working at Wonderland House but I doubt they'll come forward now. It all depends on how much time has passed and who has taken control in my absence." Jack rubbed his hands together nervously. He'd only told Abby of what happened to Duchess and it still sounded foreign to speak of Duchess in the past tense.
"Of the people who saw you at this Wonderland House, who would be the most willing to speak on your behalf?" It was Ziva's turn to question Jack and she tried to be as gentle in her questioning as possible. Every single member of their team knew what it was like to be falsely accused of someone's murder, save Abby.
Jack was quiet for several minutes and Abby began to worry that he couldn't think of anyone who would be on his side in this. She moved closer to him and put her arm around his shoulder, giving him an encouraging squeeze. "Charlie was there. He's one of the few, if not the only, true friend I have here. The Clubs were around but I don't know how loyal they truly are to me and not the title I hold. Same goes with most of the suits. I know some of them served the Queen out of fear but there were some who were fiercely loyal to her and not particularly happy when she was ousted."
The group fell into an uneasy silence. Abby knew they were trying to figure out how to conduct an investigation without giving away the fact that they were there at Jack's insistence. McGee snapping his fingers startled them all.
"Abby, Ducky, what about that video thing you showed me when you brought me here? The one of Abby's banishment..."
"YES! McGee for the save!" Abby ran over to him and threw her arms around his neck. "Come on! We're the only ones who know how to use the memory viewer." Abby scurried out of the room and towards the memory room where she'd shown McGee her past in their previous trip. She bounced silently until she heard the rest of her friends enter the room. "Jack, can you remember the night Duchess was...the night she died?” Abby knew what she was asking of her brother and didn't want him to hurt anymore than he already was.
“Ace...Abby, I...you don't know what you're asking...” Jack's voice was small and almost childlike. It wasn't that he couldn't remember that night. On the contrary, he remembered every detail, every time he closed his eyes. Jack couldn't look his sister in the eye, opting instead to stare at a spot on the floor just beyond his shoes.
Abby's heart broke yet again at what her brother was going through and she would do anything to spare him anymore pain but this couldn't be avoided. “Jack, I can't imagine how this must hurt but we need to see what happened that night. We'll figure out a way to record it so you won't have to relive it over and over I promise. Right Timmy?” She shot McGee a questioning look, which he answered with a nod yes. “I'll be right here, sweetheart, I promise.”
Gibbs watched Abby comfort her brother and marveled at Abby's quiet, yet calming, intensity. It didn't matter who she was comforting about what, she always managed to be empathetic and kind but unwavering in her devotion to finding the truth.
Abby pulled her brother in front of a modified television set as McGee quietly set up two laptops, one pointing at the monitor and one pointed at Jack. She kept murmuring things to Jack to calm him down and Jack was taking slow, deep breaths. McGee cleared his throat as quietly as he could to get Abby's attention and, when she looked at him, he mouthed that they were ready.
"Okay, Jack, concentrate. If we can get all this recorded clearly the first time, you won't have to do this again." Abby's voice was calm and soothing. Jack nodded his agreement but there was a fair amount of hesitation. He could barely handle seeing that night in his mind let alone having his sister and five strangers watching it too. Jack put his hands on either side of the monitor and closed his eyes, concentrating in order to bring the memory to life on the screen.
The NCIS team watched as Jack's memory played itself out on the screen from the time he was at Wonderland House until he went home and found Duchess's body. Abby couldn't stop the tears that started streaming down her face at her brother's anguished cries. Even Ziva flinched at the sound. McGee focused on the computers to make sure the cameras were capturing everything so they only had to subject Jack to this one time. From the look on the other man's face, the memory viewer intensified the effect the chosen memory had on the subject.
Gibbs knew as soon as he heard Jack's cries over his wife's dead body that the blond haired man was innocent. Nobody could fake that sound. Gibbs recognized those as similar to the screams that tore through him when he was told of Shannon and Kelly's deaths. He tore his eyes away from the monitor and the frantic memory on its screen and walked away from the group. Tony followed him long enough to make sure, in typical DiNozzo fashion, if he was okay. Gibbs was glad Tony didn't ask him anything because Gibbs didn't want to lie to his senior agent.
"He didn't do this, Tony, and we're gonna prove that come hell or high water," Gibbs voice was a lethal whisper and Tony nodded yes before going back to where Jack had disengaged from the foreign device and was being looked over by Ducky.
"Abs..." Tony's voice failed him when Abby turned her tear-stained face to him. His arms worked on instinct and gathered his friend into a hug, rubbing her back as she cried into his shoulder.
"He's innocent, Tony. You believe that, right?" Her sobs wracked her body as Tony whispered meaningless platitudes into her hair.
"Abby..." Gibbs' voice echoed in the now quiet room and Abby stood up to look him in the eye, something she rarely ever did.
"My brother is innocent, Gibbs. You saw his memory. You know he's innocent."
"I know and we're gonna prove that if we possibly can. I promise." He pressed a kiss to her temple before walking over to Jack to run through some basic questions with the monarch.
After a gentle interrogation, it was decided that what the investigators needed to do was find someone who'd seen Jack at Wonderland House. They also had to find out if, as Abby and Jack had said, Duchess' body was kept in stasis until her alleged killer could be brought to justice. Jack insisted that he should accompany Gibbs and DiNozzo to Wonderland House.
"Absolutely not! You're not leaving this room until we have the proof we need to prove that you didn't do this." Abby insisted.
"Abby, listen to me. I have to go with them. How else will they know who to look for? More than that, no one will talk to them since they don't know them. The people at Wonderland House know me and they trust me. Not to mention the fact that, even if we find someone who saw me, they might not be willing, or even able, to talk to anyone, even me. I have to go." Jack's voice was firm, yet understanding. He knew how protective his sister had become over him and it touched his heart to know that she still loved him. "Besides, there's a little known law I can invoke to protect myself from summary punishment. I just need you to claim your place in our family."
"I thought she would've repealed that as soon as I was gone..." Abby huffed.
"Somebody wanna clue us normal people in here?" Tony's voice was part curiosity and part annoyance. Gibbs (understood where Tony was coming from and was immediately sorry he hadn't brought any coffee along with them.
"There is a law that says two members of the royal family can invoke a tribunal before an impartial representative of the White Rabbit," Jack explained. "It can even be used if one of the two members of the royal family is the one accused of a crime. In fact, that's the main reason it was made a law. Our grandparents thought of it."
"So basically what...you and Abby show up somewhere and demand this tribunal? Let's do it then!" Tony's excitement didn't reach Abby and Jack.
"What aren't you saying?" Gibbs was guarded. This sounded too good to be true which meant it probably was.
"Well, it's the impartial representative of the White Rabbit that's the problem. From what Jack's said, there aren't any White Rabbits left and, even if there are, they're all in hiding as they were loyal to our mother." Abby's shoulders slumped.
"Not all of them." Ducky's voice caused them all to jump slightly. "After all, I was born and raised a White Rabbit and I have no such loyalties to the Queen." Ducky straightened up nobly and squared his shoulders. Abby squealed happily and launched herself at the older man.
"But Ducky is not exactly impartial..." Ziva spoke up for the first time since they'd gotten to Wonderland and everyone turned toward her. "I meant no offense, Ducky."
"None taken, my dear. I assure you, I can be impartial in this matter as I know what the punishment is here for murdering a member of the royal family." Ducky's tone was cold.
Tony opened his mouth to ask what the punishment was but immediately thought better of the idea when he saw the look on Abby's face. He guessed that there was no imprisonment in Wonderland. It really was 'off with their heads' here after all.
"All we have to do is make it to the seat of the monarchy. Luckily for us, I had the main tea house converted to the government offices. It's not too far away and, as you've seen, there aren't many people out and about in town." Jack rubbed his head absently. He had a bad feeling about things but couldn't put his finger on exactly why. He kept his suspicions to himself as he helped pack things up as best he could. He tried to avoid Abby's gaze, knowing that she could tell something was bothering him just by the look on his face.
Abby concentrated on Jack, ignoring the mindless chattering of her friends as McGee directed them on how to pack up the laptops and Ducky regaled the non-Wonderland natives on stories of how different this place was from the story of the little girl named Alice who came through the Looking Glass. Every time she tried to get Jack's attention, he maneuvered out of her grasp to help here or there or even to join in on Ducky's modified history lesson.
Once they were all packed up and ready to go, Jack moved to the front of their group as all their eyes trained on him. "I will be honest with you. I don't know what we'll encounter once we're out of this building. I know some rather inconspicuous ways to the government hall but I have no idea how much time has passed on this side of the Looking Glass or who's taken charge in my absence."
"Appreciate your honesty, Jack, but let's go." Gibbs' voice was strong and Jack took strength from that. He could immediately understand why Abby cared for this man as much as she obviously did. He was a stable, guiding force, the likes neither Jack nor Abby had ever truly known in Wonderland.
The group walked carefully out to the sidewalk, everyone watching for the slightest movement as a potential threat. No one was out and about, which Jack had expected, but there was an air of tension that hadn't been present since the Queen had been exiled. They made it to the government seat without encountering another living soul but that changed as soon as they entered the building.
"Who are you?!" A harsh male voice screeched out of the darkness followed by numerous footsteps on the cold, hard stone floor. "You! Jack Heart, you are to be detained for the murder of Duchess Diamond-Heart! Suits!" An unfamiliar Club called for reinforcements. Jack heard guns being drawn and looked to see Gibbs, DiNozzo, Ziva, and McGee training their weapons on the Club in front of them and towards the darkness where they could hear the other suits coming from.
"I call for an honesty tribunal under the laws of Wonderland." Jack explained calmly, his hands raised in surrender. "I challenge the accusation that I murdered my wife and demand the tribunal to plead my innocence."
"A tribunal requires two members of the royal family and I only see you." The Club stated in a superior manner.
"Then open your eyes because there's another member of the royal family right here, you stupid Club." Abby walked regally to stand beside her brother and stared down the Club, who looked both shocked and a little confused. "I am Aceline Devillias Willemina Heart, eldest daughter to the Queen."
"But you...you're dead..." The Club stammered.
"I was sentenced but not killed, as you can see. Now, who has taken charge of Wonderland in my brother's absence?" Abby let herself feel every bit her regal heritage that she'd pushed to the back of her mind all these years. She even took a modicum of satisfaction at seeing the Club in front of them, and his suit reinforcements, lower their eyes in the presence of her and her brother.
"This...this way...your majesty...majesties..."
Abby and Jack motioned for the rest of their group to put their weapons away and follow them, which they did. With various suits surrounding them, Abby and Jack led the group of NCIS personnel through the hallways, some lit and some darkened, until they reached the main room of the building where Abby could tell Jack had set up the hub of his government. It was an imposing room but not in the sense that their mother's throne room in the Casino had been. They stopped suddenly when they saw who was seated in the chair at the head of the room.
"Mother...I thought you were dead." Jack's voice was calm but Abby could hear the undercurrent of fear and hatred in it.
"I know. That's what I wanted you to think. And who is this, a replacement for poor Duchess?" The Queen's tone was as cold as Abby remembered it but she steeled herself in the face of that icy bewilderment.
"Don't you recognize your own daughter?" Abby stepped up just beyond Jack, her head held high in defiance of the imposing figure walking towards her.
"I don't have a daughter."
Abby laughed. "Is that what you told yourself to justify ordering my death all those years ago? Luckily for me, Father wasn't as cold-hearted as you are. He refused to see his only daughter killed just to pacify you." Abby walked stealthily towards her mother and schooled her features to betray nothing of the torrent of emotions churning inside her.
"Winston...no. He wouldn't do that to me." The Queen searched the face of the woman before her and was shocked at what she found.
"But he did. He couldn't bear to stand by and watch me die for simply asking why the Oysters meant so little to you even though they were infinitely more special than us. All I did was ask a question and, for that, you ordered my execution." Abby's tone was as cold and hard as her mother's had been the day she'd ordered her death. It was that coldness that forced her mother back a step. "Father arranged for me to be sent through the Looking Glass to a couple who'd been lucky enough to escape your awful Casino. They raised me as their own and I swore I'd never set foot back here."
"Then what the devil brought you back?!" The Queen hissed.
"Jack did. He could never murder Duchess and anyone who says he did is a fool or a liar or both. So here I am. Jack and I can call for an honesty tribunal to prove Jack's innocence." Abby smiled at her mother's obvious discomfort.
"That's all well and good but you need an impartial White Rabbit and, sadly, there are none anymore." The Queen maneuvered herself between Jack and the chair at the head of the table.
Ducky cleared his throat and moved to stand on Jack's other side. "Actually, Majesty, there are. I am Donald Mallard, son of Victoria and James Mallard of the White Rabbit. I was raised and trained to be a White Rabbit even though I haven't served in that capacity for quite some time."
"Mallard. Your parents were traitors to their profession and you think I will allow you to be the impartial representative?" The Queen sneered but Ducky didn't budge, physically or mentally.
"You have no other choice. You have two members of your own family calling for the tribunal and a White Rabbit representative present. The decision is made for you." Jack crossed his arms and stared down the woman who, at one point, had meant the world to him. That had ended when she'd taken his sister from him and, in effect, stolen his childhood.
"Very well. The Queen ungraciously gave in. “What are your terms?"