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Cover of October Skies

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It's late when he gets in, another long day of overtime as they finally manage to close a case that's been eluding them for awhile now. It's been days of dealing with the Mayor and the media, everyone looking for a scapegoat and choosing NCIS and specifically Pride .

Christopher's had enough of it for a lifetime.

He manages to haul his exhausted body through a shower and into bed, throwing on a pair of old gym shorts to sleep in and is asleep when his head hits the pillow.

It feels like only minutes later that something’s waking him. He opens his eyes, sleep deprived brain trying to catch up, to determine if there’s a threat.

Instead of the ceiling in his room he opens his eyes to a canopy of trees. Branches link above him, dark, blotting out the moon and stars and leaving only shadows that seem endless. Confusion filters through him, a hint of panic-- did he sleep walk? Cade was always the sleepwalker in the family, not Christopher. His eyes feel gritty and he reaches up to rub the crusted sleep from them, or tries to. He meets resistance. This time panic is a solid feeling, rushing through his chest like a wave breaking and he jerks, tries to sit up but there’s a solid band wrapped across his chest too.

“You’re awake,” a soft voice murmurs and then the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen is leaning over him. Her dark hair falls over her shoulders, tickles his skin where it brushes, her green eyes seem to glow, the brightest point of light wherever they are.

“Hello my love,” she runs a soft hand down his cheek, her smile breathtaking. Christopher’s never felt like this before, so at peace, so in love he can barely breath with how good it feels. He has no idea who she is but he feels like he’s known her for ages .

“Where are we?” He winces at how loud and clumsy his voice is compared to hers.

“Somewhere special.” she soothes him, runs a hand down his chest and he realizes his t-shirt is missing. Her hand is wet and she traces strange patterns on his skin that makes him shiver with more than just the cool touch. “You’re going to help me.”

“Of course.” He agrees quickly. “Anything for you.”

She disappears for a moment and he cranes his neck trying to find her again, panic returning when he can’t see her, but then she’s back, soothing him. They’re alone in the small clearing under the canopy of trees and she kneels next to him, some sort of fancy cup in her small hands.

“Drink this and you and I can be together forever.” She promises, helping prop his head up with surprising strength. He thinks yes, together forever . But there’s something niggling at the back of his mind, something he’s forgotten, or someone.

“My love?” She catches his gaze and holds it and the tension that had been seeping into his muscles is gone. He would do anything for her. “There, that’s better isn’t it? You’re so good for me, I’m so proud of you.”

She cups the back of his head and presses a chaste kiss to his temple then holds up the cup.

But the niggling is back and with it brings a single word: Pride .

“Wait,” he breathes, shifting in his bonds. Why is he bound? He said he’d do anything for her.

“Everything is fine,” she shushes him. “Just drink this and you’ll be mine.”

“I can’t,” he wants to, he wants to so badly but he already belongs to someone.

“Melissa Duvalle,” his voice is like a gunshot, cracking through the silence of the clearing, shattering the intimate atmosphere and leaving Christopher’s head spinning. For a moment he’s certain he imagined it. “Step away from Agent LaSalle.”

The cup slips from her fingers, spills the contents all over his chest. He can feel it run down, drip down his sides, pool in his groin. Her face twists and the beauty is gone replaced with a rage so startling it sends his pulse racing.

“No!” She shouts. “You won’t interrupt! I’ve claimed this soul!”

She moves too fast to see, smears the liquid that has splashed on her fingers across his lips and he can feel how sticky it is, taste the coppery tang of blood. He gags, tries to jerk away. A gunshot rings out through the clearing and she jerks, hisses and lunges away from him. A second gunshot rings out, a third, and then he hears the heavy thud of a body hitting the ground.

His head is spinning, mouth, throat and chest warm. He squeezes his eyes shut as nausea rolls his stomach.

“Christopher.” A calloused hand cups his cheek. The touch is achingly familiar. “I need you to open your eyes for me.”

He’s never been able to deny him anything.

He forces his eyes open, squints up at King’s face, tight with concern.

“Do we need an ambulance?” He hears Gregorio call out but it sounds far away. Everything feels far away.

“No,” King doesn’t look away from him, holds his gaze. “Are you with me Christopher?”

“Yeah,” he croaks, thinks always . King’s thumb strokes a hot line along his cheek. He focuses on that. “What happened?”

“You got your ass kidnapped LaSalle.” Gregoria’s voice drifts up to him and a moment later his legs and arms are free. Her face reappears as she slices through whatever is wrapped across his chest, then flicks the knife closed and secrets it away into a pocket somewhere. She smirks at him. “And stripped.”

He figures he could be mortified by half his team seeing him naked but he’s still too out of it to care. He can’t even summon up a proper smirk at her teasing and concern snakes its way across her expression.

“Easy does it.” King wraps an arm around his shoulders and helps him sit up. The world spins and his stomach heaves but nothing comes up. It’s too dark to tell but his chest is covered in the contents of the cup and he has a terrible feeling it’s blood, if the taste was anything to go on. The woman, Duvalle, is on her side on the ground a few feet away, a growing puddle of blood surrounding her. Even now he feels a twinge of pain at her death, the remains of whatever love he’d felt for her. He can’t wrap his head around how she did it.

King shrugs out of his NCIS jacket quickly and helps him wrap it around his waist, pulling him to his feet. He sways drunkenly, tucks his face into King’s neck and just breathes.

“I think she was trying to sacrifice me.” He mumbles. His thoughts are a jumbled mess, like he’s had a few too many on not enough sleep.

“She was,” King confirms. He starts to steer Christopher through the trees. He hopes the car isn’t parked too far away, he isn’t sure how far he can make it. “She used magic to make you compliant, to sacrifice you for your youth.”

Christopher snorts. He stops, forcing King to stop with him.

“You’re joking.” King shakes his head. “Magic isn’t real King.”

“We have a lot to talk about Christopher.” He says evenly. Louder he calls back, “Gregorio, you call it in yet?”

“Working on it now boss!”

They reach the car and King situates him in the front passenger seat, wiping his chest down with a rag as best he can. In the light from the car Christopher gets a good look at the mess, at the bizarre designs she’d drawn underneath that don’t want to come off despite King scrubbing at them.

“That may end up being a problem.” The other man mutters but goes to fetch a blanket to wrap around his shoulders so it can’t be too bad.

“She drugged me.” Christopher says as King pulls the blanket tight around him. “I don’t know how, or how she got into my house. I’m sorry King, I’ll be more alert next time,”

“Christopher,” King cuts him off, stares him dead in the eye. “This was not your fault.”

He casts a glance over his shoulder then, but it’s still just the two of them, Gregorio with the body calling NOPD.

He takes Christopher’s hand, cups theirs together and suddenly there’s a slight weight in his palm. He pulls back, staring down at the little white flower there. This may be the moment where his brain short circuits.

“What the hell ,”

“White heather for protection.” King’s hands come up, framing his face and he can’t help but lean into the touch, eyes fluttering closed. “And sleep, you need the rest.”

“I’m not tired,” he slurs even as his body grows heavy with exhaustion. He feels gentle hands rearrange him in the seat, buckle him in. The brush of lips against his cheek. He thinks he might have imagined that one. Distantly he hears the door close but he’s already too far gone by then to pry his eyes open, to find King.

He falls asleep to the gentle look on King’s face when he’d made the flower appear for Christopher.