Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Shards To Whole: Chapter 296

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

Chapter 296: Of Triage and Dragons

"Abby!" Benedict says as she heads in. "Didn't think we'd be seeing you for a few more days."

"Nope. Supposed to meet Jimmy and Tim for lunch, but they're going to be an hour." Which is true, but misleading. They're going to be an hour because she showed up an hour early. "Figured I'd head down and see what's going on."

"Right now we're running trace for McKellan's theft, Jamison's murder case, Apley's drug ring. And Corwin is logging evidence on the Meyer's case."

She doesn't recognize any of those names, so they must all be Agents Afloat. Apparently it's a bad time to be at sea. "All at once?"

"As much as we can. Only so many slots in the mass spectrometer."

She bristles a little at the way Benedict is treating Major Mass Spec like it's just a tool, but that's not important here.

"Okay. You've got the reports up to date?"

"As up to date as they can be mid-case."

"Good. I'll log on and get reading. Want to be ready to hit the ground running when I get back."


One of the good things about the position of her main computer monitor is that she can be 'reading' her reports while watching, with a fairly clear view, what's going on in the lab. What's even better is that, with the door shut and her music on, her new underlings are sure she can't hear what they're saying.

They are absolutely right about that. She cannot, at all, hear what they are saying.

Of course, she doesn't need to hear what they are saying to follow the conversation.

And, it's not like they're saying anything particularly troublesome or indiscreet. They are, after all, professionals, at work, doing their jobs. Little bit of gossip about the new hair and wondering if that music is going to be on all the time (She makes a note to get more earbuds.) as well as some speculation as to exactly how many tattoos she's got and where they might all be, (something you get used to when you've got as many tatts as she does) followed by some speculation as to what kind of skin ink Tim must have, but for the most part they're talking about work.

And skimming the reports, they do seem to be doing fine.

The quality of the work is good.

The tests are accurate, well done, and thorough, exactly what she expects if she's the one doing them. Likewise they're maintaining the equipment properly, and running tests on it often enough to make sure that everything is in tip top shape.

So, if there's any issue with this crew, it's that they don't seem to grasp the concept of triage. The most important work comes first. They do indeed seem to be working on the idea of the first case in gets worked as each spot in the lab opens. So, Major Mass Spec can handle twelve samples at once, so the first twelve bits of whatever get run, and if that means the trace under the nails of the vics of the triple homicide have to wait because the robbery got there first, then wait they will.

So, that's the first job, getting the triage protocols set.

As she continues to read through the reports she's noticing that computer forensics is looking a bit shaky. They've been handing things off to Cybercrime that she or Tim would usually handle, but… well, okay, technically that's part of what Cybercrime is supposed to do. Still, gotta get that up to shape, make sure they understand that their lab handles all forensics that comes into them.

But, it might just be that, in that they are forensic scientists, and not computer guys, they just don't know how to do that sort of work. Not uncommon, computer forensics wasn't a skillset the forensic lab usually hires for.

That might be her new prima ballerina area, she'll be the shining star of the computer forensics, and let them do more and more of the traditional lab work…


Day after tomorrow she'll officially be back, and they'll figure it out from there.

After an hour, she did head over to Autopsy, say hello to Ducky, and collect Jimmy for their lunch date.

"How's it going?" he asked as the elevator took them up to the Bullpen.

She nodded her head a little. "It's going. Zelaz is very interested in how many tattoos I really have."

Jimmy nudged her shoulder with his and grinned at her. "Aren't we all?"


"That many? Really?"

She pushed up the sleeve of her lab coat so he could see the stitch marks. "Well, this is nine of them."


She can see him thinking through that. "You've seen all of them. Anyone who's seen me in a bathing suit has."

"That's what I was thinking."

"Yeah, I could see you counting it in your head."

The doors opened, and Tim saw them head toward him, held up his index finger in a one minute gesture, and typed faster. And a minute after that he did join them.

"Finishing up an email to Vance about my last test on Cybercrime."

Jimmy and Abby both know that's not something he really talks about at work, so they both nod, wait for the door to the elevator to close, and then Abby asks, "So?"

"Just clean up stuff, details about the six of them who completely failed to figure out what was going on. I checked the regs, and since, technically I'm a co-worker and not their boss, I'm not allowed access to their HR files, so I was asking him for permission to get them."

"Why asking permission? Don't you have a rule for that?" Jimmy asked.

"Because if I don't get permission, they can sue me, personally, for breaking into their records for privacy violations. I'm not so gung-ho on Gibbs' rules that I want to bankrupt us."

"Thank you." Abby said.

"No problem. So, how's the first day back going?" he asks with a quick hello kiss.

They talked about work, and about Abby's plan for creating some sort of evidence/case triage system. Talked about getting used to the idea of being at work, of not being Kelly's primary caregiver. And, in that they're dads, and no one ever expected either of them to be their baby's primary caregivers, talking to them about it is somewhat less satisfying than talking to Breena, but they're both very supportive and trying to be sympathetic.

As lunch was winding down, Tim said, "I was thinking…"

"God, that sound ominous," Jimmy adds.

Tim kicked him lightly under the table. "How would you feel about being major characters in a series I'm thinking of writing?"

Jimmy put his drink down. "Wait, are you actually asking, ahead of time, if we'd like to be in one of your books?"


Abby's eyebrows shot awfully high up on her forehead. Like she can't believe he'd ask. (Of course, having starred in one of his series, and having been told about one of them when he was writing it, and having to scour the internet to find the other, she's… used to… might be the best way to put it, being his silent muse.)

"I'm contracted for one more Deep Six, and I was thinking of… I don't know… I don't want to stop doing them all together… Maybe writing more of them on spec…" He can see Jimmy and Abby don't know what that means. "As they come out. Instead of a set schedule of one a year.

"And I was thinking of a fantasy series." Abby lights up at that, knowing what characters he's playing with. "Maybe not full on Game of Thrones, but something for adults, something with dragons."

"You aren't going to make me a dragon, are you?" Jimmy asks.

Tim looks a little startled by that. "I hadn't been thinking of it. You wanna be a dragon?"

Jimmy shakes his head. "I am not your comic sidekick."

"No, wasn't thinking that. Besides, does three tons of flaming death machine sound like a comic sidekick to you?"

"Oh, real dragons." Jimmy lights up at the idea of that.

"Yeah. Book for grown-ups. Serious hard-core, magic-wielding, fighters. Not… snarky house cats with wings."

"Might like being a dragon, then…"

"I was thinking of the Lord of the next castle over."


"Partner/friend/brother-in-arms." Jimmy doesn't look thrilled by that. "You wanna be the main character, write your own book."

Jimmy smiles and takes a sip of his drink.

"So, you're going to be the main character in your own book, finally?" Abby asks. Tibbs leads the Deep Six series, with Tommy and Liza being the main secondary characters, McGregor, Amy, and James are all firmly in back up territory. And nothing even remotely like him shows up in the T. M. Gee books.

"Yeah. I was thinking maybe it was time to really be in my stories, not just have them happen around me."

Abby squeezes his hand. "I like that."

Jimmy smiles. "I think Gibbs should be a dragon."

That got the other two of them laughing.

"He should be an old, silver one, trains the young dragons, beats them into shape."

"Fornell, too." Tim adds.

"Oh yeah. Can you just see that? Old dragons, just a bit past fighting prime, wings are starting to get a little droopy, but the brains, claws, and teeth are still sharp, the spells still fly fast and deadly…" Abby says, getting into the idea.

"Dragons can change shape right?" Jimmy asks.

"Why not?" Tim replies. Some dragons can. No reason his dragons couldn't.

"Then there's your twist. We are the dragons, but we're the knights, too. No one outside the Dragon Knights knows that, though. They use the magic to keep it a secret, for, I don't know, whatever reason… thinking that up is your job…"

Tim looks at Abby, grinning. "That'd explain the 'need to be strong of will and magic to control them' bit. It's not that the dragons eat the knights that can't control them, it's that they are the knights, so they don't let anyone else ride them. Building up the mythos of their power and the power of the men who control them."

She nods along with that. "If you've got to be a total badass to even get on the dragon… Yeah, that works. So, why are we at war?"

"Who the hell cares?" Tim asks.

She rolls her eyes. "It's been a while since you've read an epic fantasy, hasn't it?"


"Trust me, they care now."

"I'll figure out something. So, wanna be in my next series of books?"



"I'll ask Breena, too. After all, the Dragon Knights have to have their ladies."

"I think she'll like that. So, we're gonna be the big, damn heroes?" Jimmy asks, quoting Firefly.

Tim grins back at him. "Big, damn heroes engaging in thrilling heroics!"

Abby laughs at both of them, enjoying their excitement.

Seven AM. Normally they don't leave for work until 7:23, but she wants to get in a bit early today. Has to get in a bit early. Needs to be the first one in.

So, she hands Kelly to Heather, who takes her with a smile, grabs her bag, kisses Kelly one more time, exhales deeply, and heads with Tim to the car.

He squeezes her hand as he pulls out of the driveway.

"It's gonna be fine."

She bites her lip. "I know."

"It really is. Only thing you've got to worry about now is getting into the house before I do so you can get your snuggle on first."

She glares at him.

"Just kidding. I know you get first snuggles today."


"She's my baby, too. I've got just as much dibs on snuggle time as you do."

Abby snorted at that, and he wasn't sure if that was a laugh or a dismissal, but she wasn't, either…

First one in. Exactly the way she had hoped. Abby took the poster she had rolled up and tucked into her bag, and opened it, taping it to the shelf over the monitors on the main computers. (She'll put it somewhere less in the way, later.)

NCIS Lab Priorities:
Terror Threat
Terror Attack
Everything Else

She saw Benedict take a look at is as he came in, but he didn't say anything, and started getting his station ready. She waited until Zelaz and Corwin were in as well and gathered them 'round.

"From everything I've been seeing, you three are doing a find job on the evidence. Your technical skills are top notch. You're doing the job exactly the way it's supposed to be done.

"Organizational skills are a different matter. We're not just working on Afloat cases where the perps are all stuck in one place, can't get away, and time sensitivity isn't such a big deal.

"From now on, this is how we handle evidence. Protecting and saving living victims come first. Terror threat is a whole bunch of living victims, so it goes on top. We get a credible terror threat and everything else that does not contribute to stopping it goes by the wayside.

"Kidnappings come next. The only thing that trumps a kidnapping is a terror threat. Someone goes missing, all hands go on deck and we work until we get 'em back.

"Then comes a finished terror attack. Lots of dead people don't outweigh one alive one. But if it looks like figuring out what happened'll stop another on, this gets bumped up to preventing a terror attack.

"After that comes assaults/rapes. Fortunately we don't get a lot of those.

"Dead bodies come next. When we're working a murder we're there for the survivors.

"Everything else comes later. I do not want to see any of you working on any evidence for anything that isn't one of the above until everything we've got on the top five is processed or processing. I don't care how time sensitive or embarrassing a theft or fraud or whatever is. It doesn't get taken care of until anything that belongs to one of the above is cooking.

"Got it?"

Three nods. "Good. Okay, they tell me you've got a smoother system for checking and processing evidence. Show me what you're doing and let's get this lab moving the way it's supposed to."


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