Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Shards To A Whole: Chapter 291

McGee-centric character study/romance. Want to start at the beginning? Click here.

Chapter 291: Work



Tim was rummaging around in the cabinet under the sink the next morning, looking for cotton balls. “Did we use up all the cotton balls?”

Abby popped her head into the bathroom. “Yeah. Sorry. Forgot all about that. I’ll put them on the grocery list.”

“Great.” He headed back into their room for tissues. “It never comes all the way off when I use a tissue.”

“Hmm?”

“The nail polish. I always end up with those little black lines around the edges when I use a tissue to take it off. Makes my nails look dirty.” And while there are places and times where that’s cool, work isn’t one of them.

“Then leave it on.”

He looked at her curiously.

“It’s not against the regs. Can’t be. Women can wear it, so they can’t stop you from doing it without risking a sexual discrimination suit. Besides, you’re not going into the office today, right?” 

Sigh. “Not with the way this stakeout is going. Twelve more hours in the bus station, breathing in the exhaust, bored as hell with a dull, nagging headache.”

“Jeans, t-shirt, book bag, nail polish, wrist cuff, computer. You’re just another guy getting on a bus, going somewhere. Artist, musician, or something.”

“Like a writer?” he said with a wry grin.

“Yeah, you could be a writer. Hell, grab a Mountain Dew and you’re an indie game designer.”

He smiled at that. “Good point. We are trying to blend in when we go in and out. Make it harder to see we’re watching the place.”



He sat down next to Tony.

“You’re late.”

“It’s 8:01, Tony.”

The look Tony was shooting at him wasn’t a glare, but it was a none-too-subtle, hey, I’m your boss, toe the line.

The that might have worked eight years ago but isn’t going to fly now look that Tim shot back made Tony change track.

“You think they wanted to spend a single second longer here than they needed to?”

“No.” Good point. “How’s Ziva doing?”

“She didn’t kill Draga. But I’d double and triple check everything before using it, make sure it’s not booby-trapped or pranked.”

“Yay.” He sighed. One day of stakeout is about as long as their team can go before they start getting itchy and rubbing each other wrong. “Draga still in one piece?”

“He wasn’t limping when he left.”

“Good.” Tim handed over the reason he was late, a warm box of breakfast. “And yes, they’re scrambled.”

“Good. Only took you a decade to get it down pat.” Tony barely looked away from the monitor when he took the box from Tim, but he did catch sight of Tim’s thumb which was on the top of the box. “Man, that must have hurt.”

“Huh?”

“Your nail. What’d you do to bruise the whole thing up like that? Whack yourself with a hammer or something.”

Tim held up all ten of them, wiggling them. “Not a bruise.”

“Oh.” Tony rolled his eyes, taking a bit of his eggs. “Cute, McMetrosexual.”

“Says the guy with his own collection of organic bath salts.”

“She told you about that!” Tony looked horrified.

“I’ve been in your bathroom, Tony. You’ve got like nine of those little glass bottles full of them.”

“If you just saw them, you wouldn’t have known they were mine!”

Tim flashes him the I didn’t know they were yours until a second ago look. Which wasn’t actually true. Ziva must have told Breena, Breena must have mentioned it to Jimmy, Jimmy mentioned it to him. But he’s not tossing anyone under the bus for that chain of gossip.

Tony stared at him for a second, but when Tim didn’t say anything else about it, he took another bite of his eggs, and looked back to the monitor. “These are good.”

“They should be.” Tim opened up his own box, and saw a western omelet staring up at him. “Elaine sends her love.”

They both ate in silence for a few minutes. Tim noticed Tony glancing away from the monitor to his nails, then back to the monitor several times in the course of those few minutes. Finally Tony asked, “So, you just wake up this morning and think, you know, I really need some nail polish?”

“No, Tony.”

“Then why the hell are you wearing it? Not like we’re at a club.”

“A: It’s not against the regs. I checked.” (And he did. Abby’s assurances aside, he wanted to make sure.)  “B: I already had it on. And C: As Abby pointed out, if I’m trying to look like a guy who rides the bus, maybe office casual isn’t precisely the look I need to be going for. I mean, not to put too fine a point on it,” he stared at Tony, eyes tracing over his navy suits, “but, who wears a suit to ride a bus?”

“My dad.”

“Does he own any non-suit clothing?”

“Bathrobe? I’d assume he does, but I don’t remember seeing it.”

“And I’d assume the suit is his way of saying, ‘I don’t really belong here.’”

Tony shrugged. “Maybe. So, you’re blending in?”

“I’m blending in.” He had put on a t-shirt, jeans, and his boots as well. He wasn’t as far away from Office Tim as he can get, but he was certainly not looking particularly professional. “T-shirt and boots are part of that, too. Get headachy enough, I might take a few hours out there. Just another guy waiting for a bus. I can watch that locker from the seats just as easily as I can from here.”

Tony nodded at that. “Can’t let me know if he moves just as easily.”

“I can text. When you’re off, take a look at the guys who are waiting. They’re all on their phones.”



Half an hour on, half an hour off. That’s how long you can watch a locker where nothing happens without losing focus. Tony had the first half hour on, eyes on the monitor, hoping someone would go grab that locker and get the Euros and passports out of it.

Tim had the next one. And on and off they’d go for the next eleven and a half hours, until Ziva and Draga came back to relieve them or someone finally goes for that locker. 

It was a pretty basic case. Wife and boyfriend murder husband, get the hell out of Dodge, and off to happily-ever-after-land with hubby’s money. They had the wife, but she wasn’t talking, at all. Nothing. Perfect silence. (Gibbs was less than sympathetic about the stakeout being boring, because he spent eight hours in interrogation with Leslie Smith, where she said nothing, not even asked for water.) They knew, because they trailed her accounts, that she’d bought the bus tickets. They found the key to the locker. They found the receipt for the copy she’d made of the key.

They hadn’t found the boyfriend. They knew he existed. They had prints and DNA, neither of which matched anything. But they didn’t have so much as a phone number, email address, or hint as to who he was.

So, they were waiting, eventually he’d use that key, and they’d grab him, and that would be that.

But that wasn’t that, yet, and this part was deadly dull.




“So, how is your dad?” Tim asked as Tony got up, stretched, and began walking around a bit. They’re in a bus in the maintenance dock. It looked like all the other buses on the outside, but inside it’s a full surveillance center.

“Okay? I guess. Haven’t seen him since Fourth of July. Last I heard he and Delphine were in Montreal.”

“Doing what?”

“I have no idea. He usually does land deals, but the last thing I heard had something to do with the heathcare.gov reboot, website compliance, drug company bids… I zoned out five minutes into the explanation. All I know is he expects to make a ton of money at it, and it’s really complicated, and involves people in seven countries.”

“The next great score.”

“Yeah. And Delphine’s sticking around to be Bonnie to his Clyde, so they look like they’re having fun.”

“That’s good. Think you’re on the verge of a new stepmom?”

Tony sighed and rolled his eyes. “Who knows? If they follow his usual pattern, one of these days, he’ll be flush with cash, and spirit them off for a romantic weekend and come back married. Eight stepmoms at this point, and I only found out about two of them before they were married.”



“So, why’d you already have it on?” Tony asked ten minute later, after flipping through the magazine he bought without actually reading anything.

“Hmmm?” Tim didn’t look away from the monitor. He’d been thinking that during his next downtime he’d start building a worm to mess with Cybercrime’s password protections.

“The nail polish. You have a hot date or something last night?”

Tim smiled. “Or something.”

“Do I want to know?”

“I’d really doubt it.” Another minute of silence. “Why? Do you?”

“God, no! I don’t want to know what the hell it is you and Abby do that involves nail polish on you.” Another quiet minute. “You didn’t paint your toes, did you?”

Tim was fairly sure he had the facial expression equivalent of ‘The fuck?’ on his face right now. “Why would you even ask that?”

Tony rolled his eyes, feeling a little silly about asking, too. “Ever watch Californication?”

Tim shook his head.

“There’s a scene where the main character painted his girlfriend’s toe nails, and then did his own. It was kind of hot.”

Tim shook his head. “I didn’t need to know that about you.”

“Says the guy still wearing the nail polish from ‘or somethinging’ last night for everyone to see.”

“Touché.”



Both of their phones buzzed at them five minutes later. Tony grabbed his because Tim was still watching the feed, but he caught the grin on Tony’s face out of the side of his vision.

“It’s a girl.” He held the phone so Tim could see it, and watched the feed for him.

On the screen was an ultrasound shot, with Anna Palmer written under it.

Tim felt a grin spread wide across his face.  He didn’t need to see to text, so he flashd back a quick YAY!! message to Jimmy and Breena.



A minute later, Tony put a cup of coffee in front of Tim along with two Advil.

Tim rubbed his temples, took the pills, and said, “Thanks.”

“You’re getting that tense look.”

“Yep.”

He’d had the headache all Monday, and just figured he was feeling off. It got better when he went home, but if something’s bugging him, he usually feels better when he gets home. Abby and Kelly are home, so home makes him happy, and little nagging pains tend not to hit too hard when he’s happy.

When, half an hour onto shift on Tuesday his head started to ache again, he put together that he was in a bus terminal, breathing in a ton of exhaust, with the fact that his head hurt, and figured out that his body didn’t like being exposed to this much pollution.

Today, he came armed with Advil, but hadn’t yet reached for it, because it wasn’t hitting him too hard. (Building up a tolerance?) But seeing it sitting in front of him reminded him that yeah, he was starting to ache some, so might as well nip it in the bud.

“So, how is ‘or somethinging’ going these days?”

He started to look away from the monitor toward Tony, but stopped that, gotta keep eyes on the locker. “Are you really asking me how my sex life is?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

“New baby at home. Everyone says you never have sex again, but, well, we aren’t all only children, so that can’t be true, and Ziva’s talking more about it, so…”

Tim did look to Tony for that. “You’re doing research?”

“Yeah.” Tony said with a sheepish grin.

Tim shrugged, eyes back to the monitor. “It’s going. Kind of slow. We’re both tired, and she’s not all back to normal again. You ask Jimmy? He’s done this twice and getting ready for three.”

“I will when I get some time alone with him. What’s slow mean?”

Tim flashed him a look somewhere between perplexed and mildly annoyed. “Slow.” Once a week, once every ten days, slow. But he wasn’t going to say that. And then, because he couldn’t resist. “Probably about as often as you do it now.”

“Yeah, well, some of us are good enough at it we don’t have to do it every single day to keep our ladies happy.”

Tim laughed at that. “If that’s what you’ve got to tell yourself... How often I’m getting laid isn’t likely to have any effect on how often you get laid.”

“Thank the Lord.”

“Amen on that. What does matter is how long it takes her to heal up. Whether your baby actually sleeps. From what everyone says, Kelly is a ridiculously easy baby when it comes to sleep time, so we’re probably a bit ahead of the curve. How much sleep you actually need. I mean, if you can’t get it up on no sleep, you’re not getting laid again anytime soon. How much sleep she needs. Abby’s usually good on five hours a night, and she’s up to eightish a day right now, which with nursing makes sense. When you like to do it matters. If nursing time and sex time are at the same time, feeding the baby wins. But, look, two months, four months, six months, a year, might be a long time before you guys get back to pre-baby sex. But, at least, according to Jimmy, you get back to it.”

Tony’s nodding along, this all seemed to make sense to him.

“So, how serious of talking about it are you two doing?”

“Like, expect another DiNozzo late next year serious.”

“Wow.”

“Yeah.”

“Tony DiNozzo III?”

“Lord, no! Two of us were more than enough. But… Dave DiNozzo?”

“David DiNozzo?”

“Her last name, my middle name.”

Tim smiled at that. “Sounds awfully serious if you’ve got a time frame and names.”

“Yeah. I think we are.”



Half hour on, half hour off, on again, off again.

He spent two of his off shifts creating a--Nasty wasn’t exactly right. Not like it’s the end of the world or anything. Annoying might be better than nasty.—little worm to invade Cybercrime.

He finished it, hit enter, and sent it off to wreck a very mild version of mayhem amongst his soon to be employees. Then he sent of a quick email to Leon.

“What was that?” Tony asked as he wrapped up.

“Cybercrime test number two.”

“What are you doing to them this time?”

“You’ll like this one. You know that software that holds all of your passwords?”

Tony nodded. “Heard of it. Don’t use it.”

“Yeah, well, when you’ve only got four of them, keeping track isn’t a big deal. The guys in the basement hopefully have a different one for each login and with any luck they’re a lot more difficult than forward22, center16, halfback34, and firstbaseman01.”

“Okay, great. So what?”

“So, this goes in, sits in their computer, waits for them to log into something using that service, creeps into it, changes their password, and then logs them out.”

Tony stared at him for a moment, and then shook his head, laughing. “That’s just mean.”

“Thank you. If they’ve got decent security in place, it’ll bounce and they’ll never notice, but given how badly they did on the last test…”

“Not feeling too hopeful about this one?”

“Nope. My guess is that within a day or two, at least ten of them will be resetting their passwords, wondering what’s going on.”



By two in the afternoon, even with the Advil, his head was hurting, so Tim decided to venture out into the bus station for a more comfortable vantage point.

Of course, the thing about being out there is that other people can watch him just as easily as he can watch them, and sitting there staring at a locker isn’t subtle.

Leaning against one on the other hand…

He started in the seats. Messing around on his computer, looking like he was hunting for a better wifi connection. Moved over to besides the pay phones, spent a few minutes there. Then over to café area, more messing around, grumbling about how the wifi sucks and he needs to change carrier. He then spent another minute chatting with the guy in the seat next to him about how the wifi at the bus station sucked. After that he got up, headed over to the lockers, sat down, back against them, and got to work.

He opened his IM.

In position. Keep an eye on anyone who might come near and get scared off by me here.

Gotcha.

He was sitting so his back was against the locker two below the one their perp’s gonna want. No matter how into what he does next he is, he will notice someone basically having to stand on top of him to get to the locker in question.  

Sit and wait.

He opened word and started to write up character sketches for Gabriel McGee and Lady Skye. Been a long time since he’s written anything that wasn’t based around the adventures of LJ Gibbs.

And more than that, maybe it’s time to actually be the main character in one of his stories.



Eyes on me. Tim types into his IM.

Got him. Yeah, he’s going for it. Getting into position.

Soon as he closes the door, I’ll grab him.

See you in a minute.

The pair of legs next to Tim were attached to a not terribly impressive looking specimen of manhood. Medium height. Medium build. Brown hair. Brown eyes. Somewhere in that vague space between thirty-five and forty-five. Mr. Non-Descript.

But he was leaning over Tim, getting into the locker.

“Oh, hey, am I in your way?” Tim asked as he looked up.

“Don’t worry. Almost got it.”

Tim stood up, putting his computer down, on the far side of his body. (He’d prefer it didn’t get stepped on.) “No problem. Best wifi in the place. Kind of silly really, right here. But maybe the metal lockers act like an antenna or something?”

“Yeah. Or something.” The Perp’s not looking at him, focusing in on the bag he’s tugging out of the locker. It’s shoved in pretty tight.

“So, heading far?” Tim asked, catching sight of Tony between the perp and the doorway.

“Nah. Just getting out of town for a bit.”

“Well, hope you have a good trip,” Tim said as the Perp got the bag all of the way out.

The Perp started to close the locker looking toward the doors, and Tim quickly said, “Hey, your passport’s still in there.”

The Perp turned back to the locker, and found himself shoved up against them, one wrist already cuffed. “NCIS. You’re under arrest for the murder of Captain Lionel Smith.”

He started to flail, reaching for something in his jacket but froze when he felt the barrel of Tony’s gun against the back of his neck.

“Bad plan, buddy. Don’t ever pull something out of your jacket when you’ve got a pile of cops around.”

Tim grabbed his other hand, finishing cuffing him, and going over his rights while Tony emptied his pockets, finding a tube of pepper spray.

He held it up to Tim as they were taking the perp out of the bus station, bag slung over his shoulder, and said, “Would have made for a miserable night.”

Tim nodded at that. He’s been pepper sprayed and it does hurt like a bitch.

“Got an ID?”

“Nope. Nothing like that in his pockets.”

“You gonna tell us your name?” Tim asked.

And like Leslie, the Perp shut up.



He was in the interrogation viewing room, watching Tony and Gibbs go after John Doe. They still didn’t have anything to identify him. Well, that wasn’t entirely true. They had the passport and driver’s license that had been in the bag, but they’re fairly sure that the guy in interrogation is not, in fact, Tom Hiddleton. The hint on that came from the fact that Tom Hiddleton died in 2008.

“How’s it going Agent McGee?” Vance asked as he headed in.

“Long and silent. He’s not even asking for a lawyer. Nothing, out of either of them.”

“Gibbs…” Vance seemed to notice what he was wearing, and his eyes lingered on the nail polish for a few seconds before he finished the sentence, “hasn’t gotten either of them to talk?”

“Not at all. Not sure what the game is, other than he might be recognizable by his voice. If we ever get a word out of him, we’ll try voice recognition.”

“Sounds good. I got your email about the worm you sent in, any updates yet?”

“Last I checked, two members of Cybercrime had reset their passwords on LastPass.”

Leon shook his head, eyes skittering back down to Tim’s nails and then to the wrist cuff and back up to his eyes. “Why is their security so lax?”

“I’m hoping it’s because they’re so used to the firewall I built around NCIS keeping everything out that the idea that something could get in has never occurred to them. Do you have any idea how long HR holds onto job applications and resumes?”

“No.”

“Eventually, I’ll go ask. I want to know if this is a matter of not hiring top talent, or if it’s a morale thing.”

“Sound plan.” Another pause. “I use LastPass, too. Could someone do what you just did to me?”

“You want me to send the same worm in? You’ll have to reset your password if it does.”

“Sure. Wanna see how secure I am.”

“No problem.”

Vance eyed the nail polish one last time, but didn’t say anything, and headed off.



Hour two of the Perp not talking. Tim left interrogation to head to his computer. There had to be something to identify this guy, and if they could just get a name or something on him, they could run a believable Prisoner’s Dilemma and get him talking.

He sat at his desk, tapping his mouse pad. Facial recognition software was running. But in that his prints and DNA weren’t in any system they had, he wasn’t feeling too hopeful about that. Though…

He got the parameters of the search up, and started with Leslie Smith’s Facebook page friends and friends of friends, moving from there to people local to the area. He hit her twitter feed next, making sure followers and followers of followers got checked.

Hit or miss, and it’ll probably miss, but still… Better, faster, than what he was doing right now.



He fired off a text to Tony telling him what he was doing. Got one back saying that both he and Gibbs had pulled an excited look and left Doe alone in interrogation.

Nothing much else to do right now, so he headed down to Autopsy.

“Hello?” No response. Tim looked around and didn’t see anyone. Not too unusual with no fresh bodies. Jimmy and Ducky were around here somewhere and they’d come back eventually.

He headed over to the desk they shared and checked out the pictures. Molly at the pool, piggy backed on Jimmy’s shoulders and the shot of Jon’s fingers curled around Breena’s index finger are unchanged, but the six-week-old ultrasound of Anna had been replaced by the eighteen-week-shot.

Tim’s not an ultrasound expert by any stretch of the imagination, but it looks fine to him. Fingers and toes are all accounted for.  

“Tim?” Jimmy asked as he headed out from the storage closet with Ducky.

Tim took the three steps to him and gave him a warm hug. “She’s looking great!”

“Yeah!” Jimmy answered with a wide smile. “Double and triple checked, but everything looks fine.”

“You feeling like you can breathe again?”

“Almost. Eighteen weeks down, twenty-two to go. What are you doing back? Stakeout from hell over?”

“Yes, finally. Got John Doe. He’s not talking. Figured I’d pop down for a second while the computer did its thing. Wanted to share the happy.”

“Thanks.”

“Okay. Should probably go bug the guys in the lab. Make sure Doe’s prints match the ones we got from the scene.”

Jimmy nodded at that.

“Give Breena a hug for me?”

“Oh yeah.”

“Good.” And with that he headed back toward the lab and the next step of dealing with John Doe.



“Gibbs was already here, and I’ve reported to him,” Zelaz said without looking up from his computer screen.

“Wonderful. Wanna tell me what you told him?”

“Fine.” Zelaz turned, seeming annoyed to have to look away from his work and repeat himself. “Doe’s your guy. His prints and DNA match the exemplars you took from the crime scene.”

“Great.”

“Yep. All you need now is a name to go with the profile.”

“Working on it.”



Back to his desk, and the search, and… And it was still chewing through the data. Gibbs and Tony were both looking expectantly at him as he checked.

“Still got at least an hour before it’s gone through everything. You guys got anything?”

Gibbs shook his head.

“Nope,” said Tony.

“Okay. I’ll pull the data feeds from the local traffic cams, see if we can find how Doe got to the bus stop.”

“Good.”

“Yeah… Just gotta…” the sentence trailed off as a picture came up on his screen. He hit the keys to put it on the plasma. “Ninety-four percent match. Think this is our guy?”

Tony and Gibbs both stood to look at the picture on the plasma. Richard Fulp, one of Smith’s Facebook friends looked back at him.

“Went to high school together, lot of the same likes, recent messages between them… I’m feeling it. Jethro, you take on Leslie, tell her that Richard’s spilled the beans. I’ll go after Dick. Tim…”

“Yeah, going over financials, phones, etc… Getting you the evidence you need to make this stick.”




And less than two hours later, another murder was in the bag. 



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