Wherever she was, it was dark. This was not good. Kate turned her head to the left, and then to the right, then sighed in some strange combination of resignation and annoyance. This was probably some practical joke perpetrated by Tony and McGee. "Okay, guys," she said. Her voice sounded oddly muffled, and she had a raging headache. "Not funny!" Silence. "Real cute, DiNozzo!" Nothing. "McGee, turn on the lights right now." That voice never failed to get a response from McGee. This time it did. She tried to sit up and banged her head on something that clanged with a loud, metallic sound. "Ow!" exclaimed Kate. "Shit!"
She reached for her head and realized abruptly that--things--were jiggling that weren't supposed to jiggle. Things like her breasts. Because she was, apparently, not wearing a bra. Or anything at all, for that matter. "Oooh, I am gonna kill you, DiNozzo," she muttered, narrowing her eyes and glaring into the darkness. "Do you hear me?" He had to be nearby somewhere. Someone had to be nearby somewhere. "Guys, this isn't funny!" yelled Kate. She started banging on the ceiling of wherever she was. "Let me out of here!"
A door at her feet opened and light poured in. Kate winced and covered her eyes. "DiNozzo? McGee? You guys put me in the morgue?" She tried to scoot down, but someone pulled the slab out. She was freezing, and she was definitely very, very naked, but whoever it was--when she uncovered her face and opened her eyes it wasn't Ducky--tossed a sheet over her right away.
"Put this on," he said brusquely, throwing a pair of jeans and a tank top at her before turning to the side and looking away. Obviously someone who was uncomfortable with seeing her naked--thank God, that meant he probably wasn't a rapist or a serial killer--but who didn't want to turn his back on her completely. He had short, dark hair, a muscular build, and was wearing jeans and a black t-shirt that was way too tight. Also obviously someone with a great deal of vanity who worked out a lot, without the overly muscled steroid look some men could get. The lack of bulk meant he wasn't a bodybuilder or a football player, but he was too short for basketball. He indulged in some kind of physical activity, and often. The man had a concerned expression on his face, but whether he was worried about being caught or whether he was concerned for her, Kate didn't know. He was alert, aware of his surroundings, and obviously knew he shouldn't be here from the glances he kept throwing at the door.
"Underwear would be nice," snapped Kate. "Maybe a bra too?" Obviously this guy had no idea how uncomfortable life could be when you were a woman who worked in law enforcement if you didn't have the proper support. This was obviously some huge practical joke. There was no other explanation. She had a flash of half-remembered pain and winced, pushing the memory away. There couldn't be any other explanation. "Are you a member of Alpha Chi Delta?" she asked suspiciously.
"No," said the man brusquely. "Hurry up. We have to go."
Kate looked him up and down, holding the sheet more tightly around herself. "You're such a charmer," she said sarcastically. "And what makes you think I'm going anywhere with you?"
"You don't have a choice--"
"We'll see about that, buddy," snapped Kate, standing up. She tossed his clothes off to the side, which, when she thought about it, was probably not the best idea. Then again, putting on the clothing he brought for her would symbolically put her in his power--at least to him. Just in case she was wrong about him not being a serial killer or kidnapper. "DiNozzo put you up to this, right? Well, you can just turn around and march yourself out of this room and tell him that whatever his plan is, it didn't work. I'm not going with you."
Then the door opened and Abby trudged into the morgue, her head down and her arms wrapped around a clipboard she was staring at. Thank God. "Abby!" exclaimed Kate. "Is DiNozzo watching this on a camera somewhere? Is there a bet he's making money on. Because if he is, I deserve a cut for being naked as a result of it!"
"Kate?" The clipboard clattered to the ground, and Abby ran across the room and pounced at her, enfolding her in a tight hug that knocked the breath out of her. "Kate! You're alive! That is so cool!"
Okay, this was getting weirder and weirder. Freaky Guy was tugging on her upper arm, trying to drag her out of the room, and saying something about how nobody should see them, Abby was hugging her and babbling, and she was wearing a toga. "Okay, people, hold on!" exclaimed Kate, disentangling herself from Freaky Guy and Abby and taking a step back. "You!" she exclaimed, pointing at Freaky Guy. "You go find DiNozzo and have him explain what I'm doing at the Toga Party of the Dead!" She turned to Abby. "What do you mean, I'm alive? Of course I'm alive!"
"No, you're not," said Abby. "You died. Right in front of Gibbs and Tony. They're totally broken up about it. So's McGee and Ducky."
"Wait a second, Abby." She held up her hand. "I couldn't have died. I'm right here."
"You totally did die, Kate," said Abby. She brightened. "Hey, are you a vampire? Do you need to drink blood to survive now? Because it's still daylight, so I'm pretty sure you should stay inside. But you can borrow my coffin if you want."
"I'm not a vampire," said Kate.
"She's not a vampire," said Freaky Guy at the same time. "She's an Immortal, and we really have to go now."
Kate and Abby turned identical expressions of disdain on Freaky Guy. "You're still here?" asked Kate. She waved him off. "Shoo. Go. Find DiNozzo, and do whatever it is fraternity brothers do when their jokes don't go off the way they planned."
"They drink," said Abby.
Kate nodded. Everything in a fraternity seemed to revolve around naked women and drinking, and since there were no more naked women--in other words, herself--the next step of any self-respecting member of DiNozzo's fraternity would be drinking. "Do you have something I can wear?" Kate asked Abby plaintively.
"Ooh!" exclaimed Abby. "I have scrubs!"
Then it hit Kate. She turned back to Freaky Guy. "Wait a minute. Hold off on the drunken binge. Immortal?"
He nodded and frowned at her. "You were shot in the head. It was on the news. It's no surprise you don't remember; there's a lot of head trauma that you had to heal."
Kate turned to Abby. "I was dead?"
Abby nodded solemnly.
"You're sure?" Kate looked confusedly at Freaky Guy. "So who the hell are you, and what are you doing here?" He didn't look like he was Al Quaeda. With that faint accent, he was more like IRA. "And how the hell would you know if I was supposed to be Immortal? I don't even know you!"
"I am Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod," he said by way of introduction. Kate stared at him blankly. "Someone tipped me off about your situation. I was in town on business, and they thought you should have someone here when you woke up so you wouldn't be confused.
"Sounds like a good plan," said Kate. She looked at him in exasperation. "Too bad it failed. I'm very confused."
"You're telling me," muttered Abby.
Duncan looked at Abby. "You shouldn't be here. You shouldn't even know what's going on."
"Oh, relax," she said, waving at him dismissively. "I'm a Watcher."
"Let's see your tattoo, then," said Duncan.
Abby rolled her eyes at him. "Oh, please. It's in a private area."
Kate snickered, until she remembered that she was completely confused. "What's a Watcher, Abby?"
"This totally nuts secret society," she said eagerly. "See, there are these guys called Immortals, and they fight each other to the death for--" She shrugged. "For ultimate power or something like that, and we get to sneak around and spy on them and stuff!"
"And if I'm supposed to be one of these Immortals, how could I have died?" asked Kate.
Duncan tried to say something, but Abby ignored him. "Oh, you have to die once and then you wake up again, and you're an Immortal."
"And I died," said Kate.
Abby grimaced. "Bullet right through the forehead," she said, reaching up and poking Kate between the eyebrows. "I would have been totally grieving for you, but I got tipped off ages ago that you were gonna be an Immortal, so I knew it'd be all right! We have to tell the guys."
"You can't tell anyone," said Duncan. "She died. It was on the news. No one can know about Immortals, and you want to tell a bunch of government investigators that she's an Immortal?"
"Please," said Abby disparagingly. "These guys know how to keep a secret. Besides, just because you got thrown out on your ass back when you died doesn't mean that Kate needs to be kept from her loved ones, now does it?"
"I'm serious--" started Duncan.
"Oh, grow up!" exclaimed Abby.
"This from a woman who wears striped knee socks," snapped Duncan.
"Okay, that's it!" exclaimed Abby. Kate smiled. She knew this tone of voice all too well. This Duncan guy better watch out. "I'm calling in the big guns." She pulled out her cell phone and hit a few buttons, then tilted her head to look up at Duncan. "Gibbs," she said. "You need to come down to the morgue. Right now."
"You're calling her boss," said Duncan. "You can't do that!" He grabbed Kate's arm and tried to hustle her toward the door, but Kate twisted out of his grip and stepped back.
"Try that again and you're ending up on the floor, buster," she said.
"You'd better believe it," said Abby. "Kate can totally kick your ass."
Kate looked Duncan up and down. He was built, and he was bigger than her, but she was going to bet some serious cash that Mr. Duncan MacLeod did not train in hand-to-hand the way she had--first with the Secret Service and then with Gibbs. There was no one who could kick your ass and have you learn from it like a former Marine--and no one like Gibbs to make the lessons hit home so you never forgot. "So, Abby, you were saying someone tipped you off to the fact that I wasn't dead? Or, not permanently dead?" Kate took a deep breath. Okay. This was still weird, and sounded like a prank, but Abby would have tipped her off beforehand if there was a bet so that she could stack the odds in her favor. And she sure as hell wouldn't participate in locking someone up in a morgue locker as a prank.
"I have a friend who used to be a Watcher," said Abby. "Unfortunately, he was also an Immortal, and that's kind of a conflict of interest."
"You're not supposed to interfere," said Duncan sullenly as he pointed at Abby. "How's that for conflict of interest?"
"Oh, please," said Abby, turning to Duncan quickly. "Like that rule didn't get shot to hell ages ago?" She turned back to Kate. "Anyway, Adam came in and took me to lunch one day, ages ago. Remember?"
"Adam?" Kate looked confused. Could be anyone, but Abby didn't have friends from out of town visit her that often, much less normal-looking friends. "Oh!" exclaimed Kate. "Big nose, great accent, kind of geeky grad student? Prone to going on ad nauseum about history?"
"You got it," said Abby. "Anyway, he tipped me off after he got back to Paris."
"Oh," said Kate.
"I can't believe Methos would interfere like that," muttered Duncan.
"Dude, the Chronicles were right!" exclaimed Abby. "You can't keep a secret! I win on that betting pool!"
Kate snickered, and then Gibbs burst through the door. Wow. He looked...worse than furious, worse than driven, worse than she'd ever seen him. He was also carrying the expected Big Gulp and had barreled to a halt, stopping midway through his usual, "Whaddaya got for me, Abbs." It was never an interrogative statement with Gibbs anyway.
Possibly this was the only time she'd ever seen Gibbs struck speechless. Kate smiled weakly and waved with the hand not keeping her sheet in place. She needed clothes, damn it, and not the stuff Duncan had brought. It was the principle of the thing, and also the fact that blue jeans without underwear were really uncomfortable. "Uh, hi, Gibbs." His eyes were wide, but his jaw hadn't dropped--and he'd already spotted Duncan and half-turned toward him. Gibbs was not someone this MacLeod character was going to want to cross. "Guess I'm not dead after all." She still couldn't remember exactly what had happened, only that it was on the rooftop chasing after the Al Queda terrorist cell. She wasn't sure she wanted to remember.
"Kate?" His voice cracked. "Kate?"
She nodded, unable to stop tears from leaking into her eyes. Damn it, she hated being sentimental. "Abby can explain," Kate whispered. She wasn't sure she understood it herself, despite being the one apparently back from the dead.
The Big Gulp went crashing to the floor. Abby wailed in despair, but Kate ignored it as Gibbs came up and put his hand on her shoulder. "I'm glad to see you," he said, emotion choking his voice. "We're going to get that bastard for you."
Kate nodded. Ari Huswari. First he kidnapped her, then he killed her. She owed him. "I never doubted it."
"Get DiNozzo, McGee, and Ducky in here, Abby," said Gibbs, not taking his eyes off Kate. "Nobody else."
"Already done, boss!" exclaimed Abby, hanging up her phone.
"Um, Abby?" asked Kate. "Before the guys get here, do you have that set of scrubs?"
"Oh, yeah," said Abby. She went into one of the cupboards and pulled out a bundle of fabric. "I stashed them down here earlier today."
"That's it; I'm leaving," said Duncan.
"You're not going anywhere," snapped Gibbs. "Except maybe to Interrogation, where you can tell us how you got into a secure building in the middle of an investigation into the death of one of our top agents."
Kate smiled self-satisfiedly. One of his top agents? She liked hearing that.
Abby held up the scrubs and grinned at Kate. "What do you think?"
Kate eyed Abby dubiously. "They're covered in little skulls and crossbones, Abby!" she exclaimed.
"I know!" Abby practically bounced with excitement. "Aren't they cool?"
Well, Abby had stashed clothing for her to wear, and Abby had meant well, so Kate forced a smile and hoped Abby didn't notice that it wasn't real. "They're lovely." Kate changed quickly, with Abby holding up the sheet to shield her from Gibbs and MacLeod's view, and prayed neither DiNozzo or McGee thought to bring a camera to the morgue.
The doors opened, and McGee walked in, followed by DiNozzo. They followed the by-now predictable pattern of stopping dead in their tracks, exclaiming Kate's name, and rushing over to hug her.
Kate wouldn't have changed that pattern for the world.
"Hey, you're not wearing a b--" Tony winced as Gibbs whacked him in the back of the head. Hard. "Normal clothing," he finished lamely. "Also, you're alive. What's up with that? Sting operation?" He looked over at Gibbs.
"I have absolutely no idea," said Gibbs. "I know she was dead at the scene. I saw her--" He paused. "She was dead then, and she's not dead now."
"And who's this joker?" asked McGee, gesturing at MacLeod.
"Wish I knew," said Gibbs. "I think Abby can explain, though." His stare turned hard as he looked over at Abby. "Can't you, Abby?"
"Shouldn't we wait 'til Ducky gets here?" asked Abby, shifting uncomfortably. "I don't want to have to go through it all again."
"Shouldn't we wait until I get here for what?" asked Ducky.
Kate couldn't see him around everyone clustered in front of her. She sighed and reached out, one hand on DiNozzo's shoulder and one hand on McGee's, and pushed each of them to the side. "Hi, Ducky," she said.
"Kate?" Kate nodded. Ducky's eyes filled with tears, and he stepped forward to embrace her warmly. "Oh, thank God, Kate," he said. "I thought we'd lost you forever."
"Guess not," said Kate, sniffling. "Oh, Ducky."
"Now," he said after a moment or two. Kate let go and smiled at everyone. "What the bloody hell is going on here? And who the hell is that young man?"
"Abby can explain," said Kate. "That's MacLeod. He's given to making proclamations and muttering under his breath when we won't do what he says."
"Mr. MacLeod, you say?" asked Ducky curiously. "How odd. In Scotland, there's an entire body of folk tales about a Duncan MacLeod who arrives in times of trouble, saves the day, and then leaves as mysteriously as he arrives. Why, when I was an undergraduate, one of my professors was writing a book on the historical basis of the MacLeod folklore, including some cross-indexing with similar tales of a Connor MacLeod."
"Connor's my clansmate," muttered Duncan. "He's an Immortal as well."
"Lovely," said Kate. "Why do we care?"
"We don't," said Gibbs. "Except about this Immortal business. And getting Ari." He smiled tersely. "DiNozzo, take our friend MacLeod to Interrogation and post some guards on him. McGee, get coffee and take out. Also, run over to Kate's apartment, and pick up some of her things. Be discreet. Abby, no one goes in or out of this wing until I give the okay, so get out there and lock the doors. Ducky, looks like you have an autopsy to falsify."
Tony was already hustling MacLeod--who went, protesting the entire way that he'd just been trying to help--to Interrogation, McGee had left so fast she was surprised there wasn't a wind trail in his wake, and Ducky was on the wall phone telling Jimmy not to come in to work today. She smiled. They'd work out this death thing, or this Immortal thing, or whatever it was. She probably couldn't stay here, but at least she was alive, and at least her team weren't beating themselves up mourning for her, not any more. And they were going to take care of Ari. Her eyes narrowed. They were going to take care of him once and for all.