Sunday, June 29, 2014

Shards To A Whole: Of Phobias and Dogs

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

Chapter 346: Of Phobias and Dogs

"So, why is Shabbos at Gibbs' place," Tim asks as he pulls into Gibbs' driveway.

"He just said he had someone he wanted us to meet."

"A someone who couldn't come to Tony and Ziva's?"

"I think that's part of this, too. I know I'm fried from this week, and they're worse. So I think a lot of it is letting them have the night off, get fed, taken care of, and have to do nothing more complicated than just sit around and eat."

Tim knows exactly how much work Abby's been doing for this case, so he assumes that Tony, Ziva, and Co. have to be even busier.

"Good point."

If you asked him, Gibbs would tell you that he remembers what Beth said about Mona being protective of her pack and that she has to be introduced to new people. He knows he heard that.

But as he's bustling around the house, getting the last bits of dinner ready to go, pulling the chickens out of the oven, (Mona's staring at them, longingly, and he's firmly telling her "No!") sticking candles all over the place, it's completely slipped his mind. No, what he's thinking about is that if he's going to host Shabbos, he's going to do Ziva proud.

But it's crashing back into the forefront of it as he hears his front door open, sees Mona go shooting out of the kitchen, barking and growling, off to stop the intruder who has just broken into her home.

"Mona!" He's yelling, but she's charging toward Tim, who has just pulled Abby behind him and has his gun out, in hand, trained on the black thing charging toward his family, growling.

"Don't shoot her!"

Fortunately Tim's better at taking orders that Mona is. She's stopped two feet away, growling at him, teeth bare, quivering, ready to leap, and Gibbs is absolutely certain that if Mona makes a move, that's one dead dog.

"So, any breaks in the case?" he asks Abby as she opens the door.

She's saying something, but he doesn't know what it is. His entire world narrows down the big, black, growling, barking, bared teeth, attacking thing that is coming straight for them.

He was carrying a bottle of wine, but it hit the welcome mat with a dull thud.

He yanks Abby back, hard, knocking her off balance, right now he doesn't care if she ends up on her ass as long as he ends up between her and Kelly and whatever that thing is. His left hand darts to his gun, and he's thanking God they asked Heather to drop Kelly off and that they are coming directly from work, so he is carrying.

He figures he's got one, maybe two more heartbeats before it closes on them, but he doesn't want to miss, he knows he's shooting into a house where Gibbs is, somewhere, so he pauses, makes sure is aim is good, makes sure he can anticipate where the thing, (dog, it's a dog) is going to be when it leaps for his throat, and is tightening his finger when he hears, "Tim, don't shoot her!"

Abby is, of course, aware of the fact that, when push comes to shove, Tim will and has, literally, killed people to protect himself and others.

She is aware of the fact that he shot Jethro when Jethro was trying to kill him.

She's seen him shoot before. (Though not at anyone.)

She's seen the nervous, scared side of him wanting to be protective.

She's seen him talk his way out of danger for him and her.

But she has never seen this.

It's only the fact that she's got on wide heels that she didn't fall when he pulled her back. There was a lot of force in that grab. And by the time she's got her balance right she can see he is blocking the whole doorway with his body, has his gun out, a completely focused, and honestly, terrifying look on his face, and he's about a heartbeat away from murdering Gibbs' (apparently new) pet.

Of course it's Tim at the door. It's not a secret that Tim doesn't like dogs, but generally, he's got more of a run than shoot sort of mentality when it comes to them. Gibbs knows from Tony that the last time some sort of four legged critter came tearing out at them, barking and on attack mode, he ran for the car and slammed the door shut. (Tony could fend for himself.) However, Abby and Kelly are not Tony, and he's got them behind him, and Gibbs is awfully sure that right now Tim is on Def-Con One Defend Family Mode.

"It's okay Tim." He's intentionally using his 'calm' voice. "Don't shoot. Mona! Get over here."

Mona stares at Tim, who has not lowered his gun, growls one more time, snaps at him, and trots back to Gibbs, looking awfully satisfied that she has correctly defended her home against the invader.

Gibbs stares down at Mona. "Bad girl!" He head slaps her. "That's Tim and Abby and Kelly, and this is as much their home as your home. They are always allowed to be here, so you be nice to them!"

Woof. She's looking very contrite. The master is not happy with her, whatever that thing he did to her head was, he's never done that before, and she doesn't want him to do it again. Vast amounts of doggy shame are visible in her posture right now.

Gibbs gets a good hold on her collar and walks her over to Tim. "You okay?"

He falls out of kill mode slowly, and then lowers the gun. Once it's back in the holster, his hands start to shake. He exhales long and slow before saying, "Ask me in ten minutes when my heart stops racing."

"Didn't think she'd charge like that, she's usually pretty friendly."

"Usually? You've already developed a usually?"

"She didn't try to kill the mailman or the paperboy."

"Your mailbox isn't in the house." Tim closes his eyes, takes another deep breath, tries to calm down, long experience from Jethro (his Jethro, not Gibbs) taught him that this doesn't work well if he's nervous, he takes yet another deep breath, and then holds his (still shaking, it'll take at least a half hour to get over the adrenaline spike) hand out. "I'm Tim." She sniffs him. "I don't much like your kind, but if you don't slobber on me too much, and don't ever go running at my family like that again, we'll get along okay." She nosed his palm and he patted the top of her head. He takes another deep breath, and says, "Okay, I think you can come in now."

Abby's not looking overwhelmingly pleased with him right now. But she can see he's still shaking, so she squeezes his shoulder, nods, and hands him Kelly.

He can also feel that Abby's sure he just overreacted and by a factor of twenty or so. And he can feel that she wants to talk to him about this, because she had to have seen how he just almost killed Gibbs' pet. But it'll hold for after dinner. He nods to her, appreciating that. He's way too damn jittery to have any real conversation about this (or much of anything else right now).

So she heads in, while he holds Kelly, tight, he doesn't want his baby girl getting anywhere near that beast, and Abby kneels on the floor, while petting Mona and saying something to Gibbs along the lines of 'You got a dog!" sounding really excited.

Mona, of course, responds to this with a big helping of happy licking, and excited woofing, doing her best to look like the most harmless little ball of fluff on the East Coast.

Tim glares at her. Harmless ball of fluff is not going to make tonight any easier.

Tony walks in a few minutes later, heads straight to Tim, and hugs him saying, "I am deeply sorry for any crap I ever pulled on you. You were a prince among Probies and I will never, ever forget it."

"Uh… Thanks?" Tim's sure there's going to be a story to go with that later tonight.

Tony hugs him again, looks over his shoulder, sees Ziva petting Mona and says to Gibbs, "You did get a dog!"

The application of food, wine, and his family all around does, eventually, calm Tim down. By the time they're doing the (semi) weekly blessing of the children his heart is no longer pounding and he can look directly at Mona without wanting to run away.

Doesn't help she's some sort of Doberman thing. Granted, Jethro trying to kill him was the worst attack he's ever had from a dog, but he's not had a good time with Dobermans in the past, either. Basically, that… lizard brain? He thinks that's the term, is firmly convinced that four legs, pointy teeth, and black fur = bad news.

"So, how is it going?" Breena asks Tony and Ziva once the food is passed around.

Tony sighs, loud and extravagant, then face palms.

"It is going well," Ziva says. "He is being dramatic."

"They spent an hour bickering about music. Bishop likes every form of music ever made, except whatever it is Draga's listening to. They've both got earbuds, so it's not like they have to listen to each other's music, but because we're in waiting mode, they decided snarking at each other about how bad their taste is was a good way to kill time while messing around with their respective searches."

Gibbs laughs at that. "Two adults doing a real job, sniping at each other non-stop. So, you're saying that's annoying?"

"Go ahead, rub it in."

"Is Bishop useful?" Penny asks.

Tony nods. "Yeah. I think so. I hope so. She's found some good stuff I certainly wouldn't have. With a stack of cases and a computer, she's great. I'm less sure about in the field."

"That happens when you hire an analyst for a field job," Tim says, something of a smirk on his face.

"I'm getting that. I just don't know if, longer term, she's a good fit. I don't know if she's going to stick. She's pretty happy right now, because we're connecting dots and drawing lines and she's building maps and databases and… whatever it is she does over there. Making predictions. She didn't seem nearly as happy when we were processing the house."

"Like you did any better the first time you saw a murdered child, Tony," Jimmy adds. "Let alone on your first day."

"What happened?" Tim asks.

"She got sick," Ziva says delicately.

"That's not what I mean, Jimmy. She threw up, so what? First time we met McGee he had on a facemask and looked like he was going to pass out if he had to look at that body one more time. He stuck. She said to me she wasn't sure if she was right for this. More of a numbers girl. That's what I'm thinking of. We've all lost it at a crime scene one time or another."

Tim sees a glance pass between Gibbs and Ziva, and is getting the idea that no, not everyone's "lost it" at a crime scene, but they're both too polite to say it.

"I remember saying to you that I wasn't sure I was cut out for this, once upon a time," Tim says to Tony.
Tony nods. "I remember. Different aspect of the job, though."


"What'd she do, after she threw up?" Breena asks.

"Washed out her mouth, straightened up, and went back out and photographed everything."

Ducky nods along at that. "I think that is the core constitution of Eleanor. She came down to visit us on Wednesday, pay her respects to the Tennus, talk about who may of done this, and why. She was not comfortable, but very, very determined."

"Smart, too." Jimmy adds. "Says when she got the job she read the Manual of Post-Mortem Pathology, all six hundred plus pages of it, so she'd be able to learn more about the crimes by looking at the bodies."

"She isn't a traditional profiler, but there are similarities. A profiler looks at the individual in front of them, studies the clues, and determines who that person is based on those cues. She has a… wider view of it."

Penny gets this. "The difference between social history, where you study huge swathes of people and their trends, and literary history, where you study the story lines of individuals."

"Exactly," Ducky replies. "She didn't have much insight into our killers as individuals, but some very interesting ideas based on the sort of crime this was and what sort of person engages in said activities."

"How'd Draga do with a murdered child?" Abby asks.

Tony exhales and shakes his head.

Ziva says, "I think part of the amount of bickering going on between them is him distracting himself from this. He's very frustrated. We got one break yesterday, the Tennus were not the intended target, which I know is making him feel better, because he was digging through their lives and he was sure he had missed something because nothing was coming up that should have gotten them killed."

"We're all frustrated," Tony adds. He's about to go deeper into it, but he looks over to Gibbs, who has been listening to all of this, not saying anything, radiating his own sort of frustrated, and decides now's a good time to get off of this topic. "But it's the Sabbath, day of rest, day of putting the working world behind us, so, talking about good things? Gibbs, how'd you end up with your new friend?" Who was sitting in the corner, watching all of this.

So, Gibbs told them about how he ended up with Mona.

"She looks like a real sweetie," Breena says. Mona, apparently having figured out they were talking about her, came over and rested her head on Breena's leg, looking at her with big brown eyes, silently asking for some ear rubs.

Tim's eyes narrow slightly, but Jimmy catches it. "What?"

Tim shakes his head.

"He almost shot her when we got here," Abby sounds exasperated by that.

"And that was the right thing to do," Gibbs says, hoping to shut this down. "A dog this big runs at your family, barking and growling, you stop it before it gets there. That one was on me. I should have had a better hold on her when you guys got here."

"Thank you." Tim says to Gibbs. "Apparently she turns into a fluffy little love muffin for the girls, but she charged the door when Abby opened it."

"You were going to shoot her?" Tony asks.

"He had his gun out and was physically blocking the door," Abby says.

Molly, who had been eating and not paying too much attention to the conversation, decided that was an opportune time to tune in and managed to put together gun and her. "Shoot Mona?" she asks, horrified. (Speaking of fluffy little love muffin, yes, Mona likes kids. Mona loves kids. Molly now has a new best friend.)

Breena's eyes go wide. "No, no honey. Mona's fine. See?" Molly had been sitting in Jimmy's lap, but he hands her over to Breena, who holds out Molly's hand and strokes Mona's ears with it. "See, she's fine." Mona licks Molly's hand.

"Soft ears."

"Yes, she has very soft ears."

Molly looks up at Tim, who's on the other side of the table. "Shoot?"

"I didn't shoot her. She's fine. She's licking your hand; that's a happy dog."


"You were really going to shoot her," Abby says once they're home and Kelly's in bed.

Tim nods, that scary look back in his eye.

"She's a dog. A dog protecting her home, that's what she's supposed to do."

"I'm a dad protecting my family! It's what I'm supposed to do! Dog, bear, squirrel, rabbit, turtle, if it's growling and charging at you, it's going down. Nothing that looks like a threat gets through me to you. That's just the way it is. If I hadn't had a gun, Mona would have gotten kicked into the kitchen, and you saw, Gibbs wouldn't have given me an ounce of grief over it. He would have approved."

Abby shrugs, she saw the way Gibbs dealt with what did happen, and could feel that, if anything, Gibbs was proud at Tim for getting ready to blow away his pet in defense of his family. But that the same time… She's a dog. A pet. A cute, cuddly, furry little ball of love just trying to make sure her owner was safe.

"Tim, she wasn't—"

"No!" He says it firm and hard. He's never cut her off like that, and probably won't ever again, but this… Nope. "You can go commiserate with Hagrid about how misunderstood and safe all these animals really are. Not me." They're getting ready for bed, so he's already got his shirt off. He steps to her, takes her hand in his and touches the four tiny scars on his throat, and then his left arm, and the similar, darker, deeper scars there. The ones on his throat are tiny. He knew Jethro was going to kill him if he got his jaw closed so that wasn't going to happen. His bullet cut that short. His arm wasn't so lucky. The scars on his arm are very clearly the marks of something with a pretty nasty set of teeth on it. "You and Kelly never get marks like this on you. Not if I'm anywhere nearby."

Her fingers ghost back to the ones on his throat. He feels her touch each one. He sees her get it, really get it.

All those years ago, they got back to the Navy Yard, and he was up and moving, and Jethro wasn't. He had bandages, sure, but he was talking, and walking, and not giving her big, drugged, wounded puppy eyes.

Jethro was helpless, when she saw them, and he wasn't.

She didn't see his left arm, because he doesn't wear short sleeves at work, until they were dating again, and by then it was more than healed. The scars are white now, blend into his naturally pale skin tone pretty well, but they're there. If you look you can see something bit the hell out of that arm. So, she's seen them, knows them, but it's not something she (or he for that matter) really thinks about.

She touches the throat scars again, really seeing them, seeing where they are, and what's under them. They straddle both his trachea and right jugular. If Jethro had gotten his jaw closed, he would have ripped out Tim's throat.

He's standing there, watching her face, seeing her actually, truly, get it.

She shivers, her eyes close, and she says, "I'm sorry."

He nods. "Okay."

"It was easier to think you flipped out than…" She smiles sadly at him. "Because if you didn't flip out, than that sweet, hurting baby in the car was a man-eater and needed to be put down. And those big, soft, doggy eyes were gonna shut forever."

He shrugs at that. Jethro lived with him for five years and was a sweet dog. He was good company. He made going out to jog bearable. A big chunk of the whole get in shape thing he did, the first time, was spurred on by noticing he was having a harder time keeping up with Jethro than he would have liked. (And getting back out of shape had a lot to do with not having anyone pushing him to go out and run twice a day. Just, didn't seem worth it anymore on his own.)

But Jethro was not a big, sweet baby. He was one hundred and ten pounds of trained drug-sniffing canine who spent his whole life getting in shape to find stuff and stop anyone his master told to stop. The fact that he was drugged, that he was a victim, too, didn't mean he was harmless.

"I didn't flip out. He was a dog. Just like anything else, just like me, and you, under the right circumstances, he was deadly. Mona is, too. Everything is. And I'm not taking that chance with you and Kelly. Just me, I'll run. I have run. I'm not too proud to run away from something that wants to kill me. I'm not going to be that guy who shoots the neighbor's pet for no good reason.

"But if you and Kelly are behind me, and if something is charging at us, you will be behind me, and I will kill it before it can get to you."

And that was the last word on that.


"Hm?" They're in bed, in that quiet space between turning off the lights and maybe having sex (he's not feeling wildly sexy right now) or falling asleep.

"I don't want Kelly to be afraid of dogs."

"Okay." He doesn't want her to be afraid of dogs, either. Cautious. He wants her to be cautious around strange dogs, but not afraid.

"She's going to be afraid of dogs if you're scared of them in front of her."

"Not much I can do about that. That's a gut response now."

"You can go over to Gibbs' tomorrow and get to know Mona well enough that you don't flinch if you catch her out of the corner of your eye."

"I wasn't flinching, was I?"

He feels her nod.

"Damn. I was trying not to."

Abby nods at that, too.

"I was going to go into the office for an hour or so. I'll head over, after."

"Sounds good. How do you feel about adding one more errand to that list?"

"What's the errand?"

"Get me some pregnancy tests? It's been three weeks, and still no period. Maybe we've got something to celebrate?"

He grins at that.


Saturday, June 28, 2014

Shards To A Whole: Mona

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

Chapter 345: Mona

January 18th Gibbs woke up at exactly the same time he did every morning. He'd gotten up, eaten breakfast, exercised, gotten two-thirds through the usual shit, shower, shave routine when, reaching for the shaving cream, he realized he didn't have to shave, because he doesn't have to go to work.

Because he's not a cop.

Not anymore.

And for all the dreading, for all the not wanting to be here, for talking about it with Rachel, for mentioning it to the kids, standing there, in his shower, water rushing over his back, shaving cream in hand, it still hits like a punch to the gut.

He's not a cop.

He doesn't have to go anywhere today.

He doesn't have anything to do.

The case, the case he was on, the case that the paperwork wasn't done on… Doesn't matter. It's done for him.

Tony and Ziva and Draga are on their own today. No they aren't. NSA Girl is starting today, sitting at his desk, filling out the forms, maybe going on her first case.

Whatever happens, he's not finding out about it until later. Maybe not until Shabbos on Friday.

Because he's not a cop. He doesn't work at NCIS, not any more.

It's a kneejerk move. One that he didn't think through. He just did it.

"Hello, Ruby Lemere?"

"This is Ruby."

"Hi. This is Jethro Gibbs, I don't know if…"

"I remember you Agent Gibbs. I'm sure Dex does, too. What's going on, something with the case?" It's been two years since her husband's case closed, three years since the investigation ended, but things come back up again sometimes.

"No. Nothing like that, at all… In fact… I'm retired now. No more cases for me. I've got time on my hands. I'll be home at a sensible hour every night, and I was wondering if you could tell me about what happens to military dogs once they can't serve any more."

He thinks he feels a smile in her voice as she says, "Sure, Agent Gibbs."

"You can call me Jethro or Gibbs."

"Did you want to talk on the phone, or do you have time to get some coffee?"

"I've got time coming out my ears right now."

He's always liked dogs. His internal mental image of 'home' had a dog in it. But they moved around so much, and there was no guarantee they'd be somewhere hospitable for a dog, so they didn't get one.

It's not a kindness to get something that needs a lot of space to run around and then end up stuffing it in a tiny apartment for six months or a year. That's a recipe for a miserable dog. (Doesn't necessarily make for happy humans, either, but that wasn't something he and Shannon ever really talked about.)

And, of course, his mental image of "dog" is something that did need space to run around. Dogs are large, occasionally slobbery, sometimes smelly, critters that like a lot of exercise and running around. Dogs keep you company when you go on your morning run. Dogs guard your home and can take down an intruder. Chihuahuas, most terriers, Corgis (shudder) and the like are, according to Gibbs, cats. (Strange, temperamental beasts that appeal to women for reasons he does not understand. In case this is not clear, Gibbs is not a cat person. He doesn't much like them, and previous experience tells him the feeling is mutual.)

And, as he was looking for Ruby's contact information, it was hitting him, he's got the house, he's got the space, he's certainly got the time, so why not get the dog to go with all of it?

Same house, though it feels different. The ripping ache of immediate mourning is gone. There are some signs of moving on, though nothing to indicate a new husband or even boyfriend, yet.

Three of those signs bound up to him as he follows Ruby into the living room, and are trying to jump up onto his legs and get petting and attention. Like Dex they're all black labs, unlike Dex, who is hanging back, watching his charges, seeing how they're behaving while keeping an eye on Gibbs, they're puppies.

"Max, Ken, Jake, down," Ruby says, firmly, smiling at Gibbs, but the puppies know they're about to get in trouble. They sit down, all around him, reluctantly, quivering, staring up at him with big brown eyes, hoping for some petting.

Gibbs looks at Ruby and asks, "May I?"

She nods, and he kneels down, making sure her three newest students all get patted. And after a minute, when he's been properly licked, sniffed, and accepted as a member of the group, they fall back from him, and return to Ruby.

"Three at once?"

"Sort of. Max lives here with me and is mine. Ken and Jake are his brothers. All three of them are training as service dogs, though Ken and Jake are learning to be seeing eye dogs. They're here today working on getting used to being in places other than their own territory."

"How old are they?"

"Three months." She gestures to the sofa, and he sits down. Once he does so, Dex ambles over, sniffs him, gives him a hello again, it's been a while sort of look, accepts some petting, and then settles next to Ruby. "Training for these guys starts young, but it also starts pretty easy, getting used to being around people, dogs, new places, and not freaking out about it. Any dog that can't handle somewhere new every day isn't going to make a good Marine."

Gibbs nods at that. "Is Dex enjoying retirement?"

Ruby smiles. "He was a little edgy for a while. Once he was all healed up, he didn't feel like he had enough to do. He's a working dog, so he expected to be working. Just laying around wasn't doing it for him, but once we got another dog to train, and he started helping with that, he began to feel better." Ruby can see he's as much asking for himself as he is for Dex. "How about you, how long have you been retired?"

Gibbs checks his watch. "Officially, three hours and thirty-seven minutes."

"They drug you out kicking and screaming," she says with a smile to soften the fact that's pretty damn close to true.

He nods. "And stuck pictures of me next to the door with a 'Do Not Let This Man On The Premises' sign."

Ruby laughs at that. "And you're interested in sharing your retirement with someone else?"

"Yeah. I've always liked dogs, but didn't have the sort of life that would be good for one before. I've got it now, might as well get the dog to go with it."

"Then why not just head over to the local rescue shelter?"

"Depending on what you've got to say, that's my next stop. But, if there's a chance of providing a good home for a Marine who needs one, I'd like to do it."

She smiles at that, too. "Marines look after their own?"

"That's the idea. So, what does happen to service dogs when they get to…" he shrugs, "my age?"

"Well, it depends on the dog. Most of them are adopted by members of their units who are also heading home. Some are too hurt, they get put down. Some go to breed-oriented rescues. But most of them, the vast majority, go home with someone they already know and trust."

Gibbs figured that was probably about how it worked. "So, I take it you don't know of a four legged Marine in need of a good home."

She shakes her head. "Not right now. Honestly, not in the whole time I've been doing this." She thinks for a few seconds. "Beyond retired Marine, what do you want in a dog?"

Gibbs thinks about that. It was a knee-jerk decision so, beyond looking for something he could help, he didn't have much idea. "Not a puppy. I'm too damn old for a puppy. Plus, I've got three human ones, so I've got enough tiny critters chewing on my stuff, making messes in my house, and drooling on me."

She looks very surprised at that. "You have babies at home?"

"Grandbabies. Youngest is five weeks old, oldest'll be two next month."

She nods, that makes more sense to her than Gibbs with little kids of his own.

"But you're a hands on granddad with three little…"

"All girls right now, got at least one in the works soon, we all hope. Lots of little people in my house. So, whatever it is, it has to be laid back enough to be good with kids. Good with a lot of adults at family gatherings."

"Three kids under two don't have the same parents?"

"Noooo! Molly and Anna, almost two and five weeks belong to one set of parents, Kelly, seven months belongs to another, kid in the works soon hopefully is yet another set of parents."

"Not kidding about a lot of people at family gatherings."


"So, you're looking for… a kindred spirit or sorts. Some gray around the muzzle but not done, yet? Maybe a little gruff but good with people it considers part of its pack?"

Gibbs nods.

"Do you care about what breed?"

"Not a Corgi."

She's taken aback by that. It's really specific and not a breed most people who aren't dog aficionados are familiar with.

"Bad experience with a Corgi?"

He nods. "Maybe they're fine one on one, but the ones I knew were part of a pack of eight Corgis, one senile, old woman, and my friend who did his best to not ever be home."

"That sounds like a recipe for obnoxious dogs, of any kind. Doubt they got enough running around or socialization with anyone who was a human to be good pets."

"That could be the problem. Kind of mean, nervous, yappy creatures that didn't want anyone getting too close to their owner."

She nods. "They're usually pretty sweet dogs, good with kids, but… Anyway, if you want something that's middle aged, it's a good idea to keep in mind that smaller dogs live longer than big ones. Labs, Dobies, German Shepards, they all live ten to twelve years. Little guys like Terriers can get to fifteen. Great Danes, St. Bernards, you're looking at eight to ten."

He's nodding along with that, thinking that if he is looking for something middle-aged, it'd also be nice to know that he's signing up for more than three years.

"Collies, Border Collies, Shetland Sheepdogs, Australian Shepards, they're generally okay with kids, though they may try to herd them, with as many as you expect to have, that close in age, that might be a good thing. They live in the twelve plus year range. They're working dogs, so they're alert and focused. They do like attention and a lot of exercise. They'll get fussy if all you want to do is lay around. But they're good family dogs."


"Labs are the quintessential family dog. Laid back, friendly, at the age you're talking about they're a whole lot less bounding around with unending energy."

"Do they like water?"

"Good water dogs. You got a pool?"


"Might do better with a Collie of some sort than a Lab. Not because they don't love the water, but Labs can be… No offense to Dex here, but Labs can be pretty hit or miss on brains. Collies can be dumb as a box of rocks, too, but it's less common. My guess is, if you're on a boat, you want something smart enough to not leap into the water when you want them on board, and able to not be underfoot at the wrong time."


Ruby gets up, grabs a piece of paper, and writes on it. Then she folds it and hands it to him. "Beth Sanders runs a no kill shelter out of Arlington. I know she's usually got a few bigger, older dogs hanging around looking for someone to take them home. And if she doesn't have your dog, she'll know who does."

He stands up, taking the paper. "Thanks."

"Thank you. Would you be a one dog household?"

He shrugs. "Maybe. Don't know."

"If I ever hear of a Marine service dog in need of a home, you'll be my first call."

"Thank you. And if you do, I'll be an as many dog household as I need to be to take care of him."

Gibbs hates not having a plan. Sure, he can head straight over to the rescue. Or he can get some lunch first. Or lunch after. Or… or sit here in his car dithering about what the hell he's going to do with himself, because, really, this couldn't be less about food if he tried.

Food. Easier to make good decisions with a full stomach.

He's not in his usual digs so he just cruises around looking for whatever the local equivalent of his diner is and eventually he finds something like it.

At least, it's a local-looking place with lots of cars in front. Looks like it's a café. Food's food, might as well try it.

It's what he thinks of as a "Jimmy" place. Food on the menu looks tasty, but healthy. Really healthy. Salads, wraps, no burgers, no fries, he's looking more carefully and notices there's no meat, which means this is definitely not a Jimmy place. If he had to do no meat in addition to no carbs, he'd be one malnourished guy.

But the coffee in his hand is good, and three bean soup with fresh cornbread sounds like a decent way to warm up, and everyone around him seems to enjoy the food, so... Why not?

Everything else in life is changing. He can eat at a vegetarian restaurant for one meal.

While eating lunch (Soup's okay, kind of flat, needs some bacon or ham. The cornbread's excellent.) he thinks more about this dog idea.

Getting a pet, something that's going to live with you for the next… five, maybe ten years on a moment of I woke up and I don't really know what I'm doing with myself panic isn't a good plan.

Getting a pet because you're a pet person, because you're lonely, because you're used to noise and something alive around you all the time, that's a good reason.

How would a dog do with his woodworking? He doesn't want something chewing on his tools.

More importantly how would a dog do with someone who will want hours of mostly alone time. Where it's okay if it just wants to hang out in the corner, (He's got a pretty clear mental image of one of those big pillows they sell as dog beds in the corner of his basement with a… something… that parts not clear yet, curled up on it.) but if it wants constant attention and petting, that'll be an issue.

He's also got the image of starting running again. His knee's been clear for a week now, so it's about time to add his morning run back into the workout. Having something to go with him would be good.

Would a dog want to actually run three miles? Like you're gonna run three miles first day out! Try one, maybe half. Knee's not that much better. You and whatever sort of pooch this is'll build up to it together.

Having a dog who likes water, one who's good on a boat would make traveling, and what he plans to do while traveling, easier. Extra set of eyes and ears on-board would be a good thing.

Probably scare the shit out of any girl you'd be likely to take. Lot of Islamic cultures hate dogs. 'Course, at the same time that makes you look more like sea-granddad out for a sail with one of the kids.

If you're going to do that, you'll have stuff in your house you don't want people getting into. A dog, and… hell, a lock on the door'll make a lot of sense.

He ate another bite of soup, noticing he's scraping the last drops out of the bowl, and decides, yes, a dog, assuming the right dog is out there, is a good plan.

And having really made the decision, with something more than just a knee-jerk don't want to be lonely issue, he's ready.

He leaves a twenty on the table, while punching the address Ruby gave him into his phone's GPS.

Time to find the dog!

It's loud. That's the first thing that really hits him as he heads into Sanderson's Rescue. Lots and lots of barking and woofing and yapping.

The next thing to hit is that there are three dogs, laying on the floor, just sort of quietly eyeing him as he heads in. One of them… he's got no idea what it is… It's a dog, very definitely a dog, but it's also the product of probably hundreds of generations of indiscriminate doggy sex. Four legs, medium length tail, medium size, medium length fur, two perky ears, mottled brownish gray color, yep, it's a dog. But beyond mutt, there's no categorization for this dog.

The mutt heads on over to him, gives him a sniff and looks him over.

He kneels down to pet him.

"That's Roscoe," a heavy-set woman with brown eyes and hair says.

"Hello Roscoe," he says to the dog, looking up at her, standing up, offering his hand. She shakes, firmly.

"Hello. I'm Jethro Gibbs. Ruby Lemere told me that you were the person I should see about getting a dog."

Beth smiles wryly at that. "As you can hear, I've got a lot of them."

He nods.

"Beth Sanders. What kind of dog are you looking for, Jethro?"

He explains about what he's looking for, bigger than smaller, middle-aged, good with kids, good with water, good with other dogs. She's nodding along with that. "I might have a match for you. Come on out and meet Mona."

He follows Beth out of the main office, through a long hall with what looks like (to him) a collection of small holding cells, (about half of them are empty, the other half have dogs in them) though each one has a doggy bed, water bowl and food bowl in it, and most of them have some sort of toys.

"Out" is a large fenced yard where ten more dogs are running around playing with each other.

"Mona!" Beth yells, and another dog… this one he feels like he should know, she's mostly black, with a rust colored belly and chest, soft floppy ears, and a long waggy tail, trots up to them. Her face is pretty square and her coat's somewhere between short and medium length.

He holds out his hand and she sniffs at him. Not jumping up in an effusive wave of doggy love, but not standoffish either. All in all she's pretty cool.

"She's a little younger than you're asking for, four years old. But the family that had her before us had three kids, and she got on fine with them."

She's allowing herself to be petted, so Gibbs looks up from that and says, "I feel like I should know, but, what is she?"

Beth smiles. "Mona gets that a lot. Imagine upright ears and a short, upright tail."

"Oh." Once he does that, sure, he knows exactly what she is.

"She's probably, judging by her face and coat length, got some Labrador in there along with the Doberman, but we know for sure her mama was a Doberman, and her shape and coloring suggest daddy was at least half Doberman, too."

All of the Dobermans Gibbs have met have been guard dogs. They weren't exactly cute, little pets. "But she's good with kids?"

"She's good with kids she knows. She's good with her pack. I'm not saying you'd want to take her to a daycare and have fifty kids climbing all over her. I think that'd freak her out. But she's smart as a whip, and once she knows who's in the pack, she's very protective of them.

"I introduced you to her properly, and she's cool with you. But say you're at the park and some stranger starts moving toward your girls, she's going to start growling. No one gets within ten feet of the pack without an introduction."

"History as a guard dog?"

"Not really. She was a pet, had a family that loved her, but they adopted kids as well as dogs and their youngest child turned out very, very allergic to dogs, so she had to go find a new home."

He looks at Mona. She's looking up at him.

"I've got an extra run out back if you two want to get acquainted?"

Gibbs keeps looking at her, and she doesn't exactly nod, but she does turn, walk a few steps towards where he's assuming the run is, and then look over her shoulder at him as if to say, Well, you coming or not?

Gibbs nods and follows her.

He's tossing a ball, and she's tearing after it. She's not playful in the jumpy or overly perky sort of sense, but given the chance to run around and do what she was built for, she leaps at it.

Likewise, as they spend some more time alone, she's not effusively friendly, either, but she seems to be warming up to him.

Kindred spirit.

He's pitching the ball to the far end of the run when his phone rings.


He click the answer button and hears "I want you back."

That feels insanely good.

Mona brings the ball back, sees him talking to the black thing in his hand, figures out he's not talking to her, tries to get him to take the ball and toss it again, and he does, and she brings it back, woofing when it looks like he's paying too much attention to the phone.

Gibbs tosses the ball again and again, still talking to Tony, wishing, God, wishing so much that he could be back there.

He doesn't want to step all over Tony's time, but… triple homicide, that's a bad deal for a team that knows how to work together, for one that's half newbies…

Mona's back, seeming to understand that something's going on, she puts the ball down and nuzzles his hand. "Woof?" You okay?

And with that, Gibbs knows Mona's going home with him.

"Are you getting a dog?" Tony asks him.

"Back to work…" Friday, or whenever they see him next will be soon enough to introduce his new lady-friend.

He finally gets off the phone. "So, what do you think, want to come home with me?"

She tilts her head, giving him the doggy equivalent of You'll do. Then she picks up the ball and gives it back to him, heading for the gate to the run. Let's go! clear in her walk.

Gibbs has not been to a pet store since before the invention of PetSmart and the like. The last time he was in a pet store, Fluffinkins III (fortunately Kelly decided to name him the Third, it's not like they ever had a Fluffinkins I or Fluffinkins II) was in need of more bedding and hamster treats.

That pet store had been small, cramped, filled to the rafters with stuff, and had a very distinct aroma of 'pet.'

But, if a store like that still exists, he doesn't know about it.

So, he is, with Mona, venturing into a PetSmart for the first time ever.

He is rapidly coming to a very firm conclusion as he wanders through the dog aisles (aisles!) namely, people are way, way, way too into their pets.

There's a whole section of nothing but dog clothing. It's probably a good thing Mrs. Mallard didn't live long enough to find this place, she'd have spent the whole fortune on coordinated plaids for her Corgis.

He can kind of understand, like, maybe, if you live in Alaska or Maine or something, or if you've got one of those little yappy things with no fur, that you might want to, when it's cold, stick a jacket or something on a dog, but… There's literally thirty feet of dog outfits in front of him.

And okay, sure, the ground gets cold, so maybe the little bootie things make a certain amount of sense, (once again, in like Maine, or if you get a really hard cold snap) too, but, they're dogs, they're designed to be outside, barefoot, that's why they've got fur and those pads on their feet.

He eventually locates what he's looking for, dog beds, and there's at least thirty options in all different colors for those, too. He grabs two of them, and quietly says to Mona, "These people need kids."

She's looking at the beds as he puts both in the cart. Her head tilts a bit. Two?

"Got three floors. Thought you might like one in the basement as well as upstairs."

Her head straightens out and she looks ready to head on.



"Yeah, thought you'd like that."

She's sitting next to him in his truck, very alert, watching the road, and that feels, really right. He's even driving fairly slow (only slightly over the speed limit) and being careful about stopping and starting, because, obviously, she's not wearing a seat belt.

He pats her head. "You good?"

She looks at him and licks his wrist.

Back the… second… maybe third time they were out of Lejeune, it was after Kelly was born, but before she was walking, they had a neighbor who bred Border Collies. She had mentioned that they were very smart, and all you had to do was show them where your property ended, once, and from then on they knew what and where home was.

Well, she's not a Border Collie, but, she does seem awfully smart, and if it takes more than once, it takes more than once.

So, when he stopped the truck in the driveway (behind Shannon) he got out, attached the leash to Mona's collar, and walked her around the outside. "This is home." His back yard already had a fence around it, so that makes things easier. Front yard's tiny, little strip of grass between the house and sidewalk. But Mona seems to be getting the lay of the land.

Then he heads inside, takes the leash off and says, "Go explore."

He follows her from room to room, saying things like, "Living room, kitchen, spare room, my room," occasionally pointing out things he doesn't want her to mess with.

She trots over to the basement, peering down into it, and he says, "Go on down," while grabbing one of the beds. He plops the bed in the corner while she sniffs everything.

"Okay, see these," he's pointing to his tools and the bed. "No chewing on these."


"Good girl."

Exploring takes the rest of the day. Then there's dinner. Gibbs is pleased to see that she's not begging for his food. (Leftover Chinese, not great for him, probably worse for her. But he's thinking that when he's making food that's good for both of them, she'll be able to eat it.)

"I'm usually working after dinner," he says to her.


She follows him down into the basement, continuing to walk around and sniff everything while he works on the bed. He's getting pretty close to done. Veneers are going on tonight. Then assembly, which means pegging, lots and lots of pegging. Then finishing. Probably shouldn't have her down here for finishing. Varnish fumes and breathing in sanding dust probably isn't good for her.

Eventually she does settle down in her bed, head on her paws, watching.

Bedtime. (Two hours later than usual. He wishes he could say he just got so into it he didn't notice time pass, but it's a much more mundane thing, he just wasn't sleepy.) He heads up. She follows. He's heading toward the bedroom when she goes to the kitchen door, and it hits him what she needs. He makes a note to get a doggy door for his kitchen door, so she can let herself out, while opening the door to let her go about her bedtime routine.

A few minutes later he hears paws on the steps up to his door, and a let me in woof.

He goes about his own routine, and when he gets out of the bathroom she's sitting on his bed, watching him.

He thinks about that for a moment. He certainly doesn't mind her sleeping with him. But he's also thinking that it would be nice to have a human woman in this bed at some point, and she might be less than thrilled with sheets that smell like dog, let alone have lots of little black hairs sticking in them.

He looks around his room, and comes up with a compromise.

Back downstairs, he grabs the second dog bed.

"I know it doesn't match up well now," he says, putting the bed on the chest he keeps at the foot of his bed, "but it will. I don't usually have my mattress on the floor. Usually there's a bed here, lifting this up about ten inches. That's what I'm building down there. When it's done," he pats her bed, and she ambles over to it, "This'll be a little bit lower than the rest of the bed, but right next to it."

She turns around a few times, nosing the dog bed, and then settles down, seeming to be satisfied with the compromise.

He pats her, and then gets into bed, feeling like, as first days of retirement went, it was a pretty good one.


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Shards To A Whole: Team DiNozzo

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

Chapter 344: Team DiNozzo

Tony stands in front of his mirror, straightening his tie. He hasn't dressed this carefully for work in… Forever.

But today is the first day, the first real day, of Team DiNozzo.

Ziva kisses his cheek, and straightens his already impeccably straight tie. "Ready?"

He kisses her. "I was born ready for this."

She smiles at that, wry look in her eye, knowing exactly how nervous and eager he is for this, and then nods. "Then let's go."

It's been ten years since it was really, truly his team.

That's a lot of time to get a plan together. Lot of time to think about what worked the first time, and what didn't.

The first time, he was trying to out-Gibbs Gibbs. Not necessarily the same style, but solve the crimes, save the day, push harder, faster, longer than anyone else. That, he was trying to do.

He was trying to prove he was worthy of Gibbs' job. Because, when it comes down to it, 'You'll do,' and ending up with "temporary" Team Leader status because there was no one else around to take it wasn't exactly a ringing endorsement of his leadership skills.

But this time he's not feeling any need to kick into overdrive. He doesn't have to prove he's the man for the job, because he knows he is.

It feels really bizarre to be the old man on the team. He's fourteen years older than Ziva, eighteen years older than Draga, and he did peek into the HR forms and found that he's twenty years older than Bishop.

Who is, speak of the devil, walking into the office, little spring in her step, hair long and loose, looking perky and happy and just… so not a cop. He shakes his head (mentally, he doesn't want to do it for real and show what he's thinking) and says, "Hi."

She smiles up brightly at him. "So, where do we start?"

He points to Gibbs'… hers… it's hers now… desk and the pile of forms on it. "Fill 'em out. Don't get carpal tunnel. Doris, the evil troll from HR, wants me to remind you that they're supposed to be in black ink, perfect, no cross-outs. Cross something out, and you've got to fill it out again from scratch."

"He's not kidding about that," Draga adds. "First day in, I'm filling out the forms, we get called out, Gibbs had me doing it in the van on the way to the crime scene. I got it done on the way because you can't go into the field if they aren't done, and then, a few days later, in the middle of a massive terror case, Doris shows up, with half of my forms, bitching at me about how they have cross outs on them and how I have to re-do them because they have to be perfect and original."

Bishop's staring at him with wide eyes. "What did you do?"

"Nothing. McGee stood up and bit her head off. We were the only two on that day, because the rest of the team was injured, and he said… uh… It wasn't polite… but it boiled down to she could have my time for filling out the forms shortly after hell froze over because saving human lives and catching terrorists was more important than crossed out black ink, and that if she ever showed up here again and wasted his time during an active investigation she'd regret it."

Tony hadn't known that. "Probie slew the Troll?"

"Didn't hurt that Vance was up on the top level, watching, and just slowly nodded at her after McGee got done chewing her out while we were trying to stop someone who almost killed an entire aircraft carrier full of people."


"A week later, when we were on paperwork duty, he sent me down to fill them out again, perfect, the second time. Still had to do it."

Tony nods, the t-s have to be crossed and the i-s dotted. "Anyway, fill out those forms, Bishop."

"Filling out forms!" She nods along, looking at the forms, and puts her bag on the floor next to her chair, finds where Gibbs kept the clip boards, sticks the forms on it, and then hops onto the desk, cross-legged, pops her earbuds in, opens up a bag of caramel corn, hunches forward, and starts filling them out.

Tony stares at her, perplexed, but she's completely unaware of that, filling in blanks with all her focus. "Bishop?"


He was about to say something like, this isn't college, you sit on the chair, not the desk, but, as he thinks about it, it doesn't matter. If she's comfy up there, and gets the paperwork done correctly. Who cares?


She looks at herself on the desk. "Is this a problem?"

"Not for me." Feels a little odd to say that, because her on the desk does irk him, but it shouldn't, so he's going to let it go.

"Okay, good. I like to spread everything out for big picture work, and pull in tight for little details. This looks like a lot of little details."

"Yes it is." She keeps looking at him for a moment, and he nods, "Carry on."

So she does.

It hits him, as he's doing his own paperwork, that he put the badge on for the first time in fall of '91. Which means, when Gibbs grabbed him back in '00, he had two more years of experience on the job than Gibbs did.

Means he's always had two years as a cop on him.

And it's only now, sixteen years after they met the first time, that it's hitting him that that's true.

He knows he's older now than Gibbs was when they started working together. (A rather terrifying thought in and of itself.) But it's also hitting him that right now, he's the same age Mike Franks was when he gave it up.

He's the grown up. Husband, probably father soon, and now, without any question, the Boss.

Last week, when he had a fully functional team of people who… okay, Draga's still new and all, but for the most part he's out of the puppy phase and can be relied on not to pee on the rug… knew what they were doing (mostly), he got one case.

One case that took less than twenty-four hours to solve.

So, on day one of Team DiNozzo, dispatch calls up, and he's hoping for a basic homicide, something to gently get Bishop's feet wet. (Unlike the massive terror free-for all of doom that was Draga's first case.) But does he get that basic homicide? Noooooo…

No, they're calling him in on a triple murder and missing child/maybe kidnapping.

It's a family. Mom, Dad, and older brother are all dead. Little sister is missing. This is literally the case he had in mind when he asked Gibbs if he was going to work like he had a kidnapping on Monday.

He almost told Dispatch to send this down the road. But as he glances around the office, he can see the other teams are working, too.

"Give me the details."

Dispatch does, and right now, he'd give his left arm to have Gibbs back. This is the kind of case you want all hands on deck, and you want those to be good, unflappable, experienced hands. Not one barely-trained Probie and a complete wild card. But calling Gibbs for help… No, not today. Today is the worst possible day to call Gibbs for something like this. For both of them. He's got to fly on his own, and calling Gibbs in today would be like dangling a raw steak in front of a starving lion and then telling the lion he can't actually eat the steak, but some advice on how best to cook it would be nice.

So. No calling Gibbs. Team DiNozzo is on the job. Even if this is a triple homicide kidnapping and he's got two probies on the team.

Though he notices his phone is in his hand and he's got McGee's number up before he turns the damn thing off and sticks it back in his pocket.

If there is any saving grace for what's coming up, it's that they get the call from Dispatch while they're en-route, and learn the missing child has been located and is currently with Grandma.

Two-year-old Emma Tennu managed to get herself hidden in the laundry chute, and is currently the only living member of the immediate Tennu family.

They're way the hell out in the sticks. West Virginia's less than an hour away, and even with the GPS, they're on their third non-descript, sign-free, dirt road meandering through a million miles of forest, hoping that unlike the first two, this is the right one.

"There!" Ziva says, catching sight of an even smaller dirt driveway with four mailboxes at the end. Tony slams on the breaks, backs up, and turns in. Four log cabins. Each one on its own driveway branching off the main driveway. Fortunately the one he wants is easy to find, cop car with lights flashing, tape over the door, a very distressed looking LEO standing guard at the front porch.

This is the place.

Draga catches sight of the LEO, and his face hardens. He knows by the body language this is going to be all sorts of bad. Bishop's too green for that, so as soon as they stop she says, "Okay, what first?" in an eager voice.

"Just like a puzzle, we work from the outside in. So, first up, coveralls. Next up, perimeter. Bishop, I want you photographing everything. Draga, show her how to secure the perimeter."

"How far out do you want?"

Tony looks around. They're on a wooded lot in the middle of nowhere. If their perp… perps? He's thinking this far out in the middle of nowhere, three dead people means more than one perp, but that's based just on a feeling, no facts, yet. If their perps, came in by car, the driveway's basically the only way to do it without leaving a huge mess. "All the way to the mailboxes for the driveway. Hundred meters out from the house. Do either of you know anything about wilderness tracking?"

They both shake their heads. He sighs. Gibbs was great at spotting the trail someone leaves when they go through woods, practical use of that skill in the field. McGee was okay at it, he probably had like six merit badges in it. Of all the days not to have snow on the ground…

"Okay. See any suspicious looking broken bushes or branches, get Ziva."

"What would a suspicious looking broken bush be?" Bishop asks.

He's sure it's a good question, but since he's not the one who ever noticed the damn things in the first place, he's a bit stumped by that. Fortunately, Ziva answers, "Imagine someone was running through the forest quickly. If you see damage to the trees that matches that, yell for me."

They both nod.

"Get to it." Tony says.

"What do you do?" Bishop asks.

Ziva catches his, it's not okay to dole out headslaps for questions is it?

She shakes her head minutely. And he very much understands her answering look you're the one who hired the girl with literally no practical experience in this subject.

"I talk to the LEOs… Law Enforcement Officers…" he says before she can ask, "Ziva's going to handle the outside of the house. And when I get done with them, I'll help her with that. Once you and Draga are done with the perimeter, we'll head inside to process the scene."

"Okay," she chirps, bright, happy, camera in hand. "Lead the way, Draga!"

And off they go.

On the outside, the house looks fine. The only clue, which Draga points out to Bishop, is the knob on the front door is broken.

Inside everything is not fine, at all. It looks like a horror movie was shot in here, but with real people.

Tony puts Bishop in charge of photographing everything, because even the greenest Probie can handle 'Photograph every square inch of this house, at close range, twice! And don't step on anything!'

Dad (aka Lt. James Tennu) is in the living room. From the looks of it, he put up a hell of a fight. Ducky points out the bruises on his knuckles and the fact that he's got four bullet wounds in his chest. Bishop does okay with that. So she takes pictures, looking nervous, scared, excited, and unhappy.

She's green by the second body. Mom, (Ensign Harper Tennu) is on the stairway leading up to the second floor, gun near her hand, and from the looks of it, she got at least four shots off before she was shot, too. He sees Bishop, swallow, hard, but she keeps photographing and does a good job of staying out of the way. She doesn't mess up the blood spatter or touch anything she shouldn't, and she waits patiently for Ducky and Jimmy to collect Harper, get her properly taken care of, before trying to get up the stairs.

Upstairs is the problem. Big Brother, aka Brian Tennu, eight-years-old, still holding the baseball bat he was trying to defend his sister with, is in the hallway. Tony knows how bad this hurts to him, how much he hates seeing this; how much moments like this make him feel the world is just a festering ball of evil, and that they'll never win, never even fight it to a draw, that the best they can do it just clean up the mess. He honestly can't imagine how this feels to Bishop.

And then he doesn't have to, he hears the first retch. She iron-jaws her way through it, doesn't puke on the rug, and walks, carefully, but quickly, to a bathroom. (Which hopefully doesn't have the key to this whole thing in the toilet.)

He wants to tease her, make a few bad jokes, try to lighten the whole thing up. He's about to do it, words on his tongue, but he can't. He's the Boss. Really, truly, the Boss, and he can't make himself feel better about this absolute shithole of misery and despair by mocking her response to it.

He hands her a Dixie cup of water. She swishes and rinses out her mouth, skin gray and clammy. "This is as bad as it gets, Bishop. We never run into anything worse than this. Take a minute, get your legs under you, and then take more photos. Get all of it on film, because somewhere in one of these shots is likely the answer to what happened and why."

She nods, takes a few deep breaths.

"Next time, get clear of the crime scene."

She nods at that, too. "I was afraid, that if I ran, I'd mess something up."

"Okay." That's way better than the she-panicked-and-headed-for-the-nearest-available-toilet that he was thinking she had done. "Make sure you've got puke bags in your pockets from now until you get used to this. You're right, it would have been bad to run through something and destroy some evidence. But, we haven't processed this bathroom…" He doesn't need to finish the sentence, her face goes even paler as she gets it.

"Oh God… Did I just…"

"Probably not. There's no blood trail into or out of here, and our perps (this much carnage means more than one person) would have been covered in it. But… there's no way to be certain."

She's looking crushed, listless, leaning hard against the bathroom sink, looking at herself in the mirror. "I'm not sure this is me. I'm more of a numbers sort of girl."

"That's why we've got a Probie year. You get to find out if this is you."

She exhales long and deep, closes her eyes, and he can see her steeling herself for what's outside the door. Then she stands up, picks up her camera, and says, "Okay. Let's get this asshole."

"That's the attitude!" He pats her gently on the shoulder and wonders if he was ever really this young or green.

Hours later, when they're still, still processing the scene, he can't take it anymore. He looks around, makes sure Bishop and Draga are nowhere nearby. (He's got them getting blood spatter samples. He's figuring they'll be done roughly ten minutes after Hell freezes.) Then he pulls his phone out and hits Gibbs contact number.

Before he gets the chance to even say hello, Tony says, "I want you back."

"Tony?" Gibbs sounds curious.

"She's so green. Remember McGee's 124 Crayon box? She's every shade of green in the box."

"No one's born a cop, Tony."

"I know, but… God, Gibbs, she's making Probie look smooth and polished."

Gibbs laughs at that. Tony thinks he hears some woofing in the background.

"Where are you?"

"Doesn't matter. You gonna be okay?"

"Yeah. I will. And she probably will, too. But… God, I'm being encouraging and sincere. Ziva's starting to wonder who the hell I am and what I did with Tony."

"Part of the job. You don't want to be cutting her knees out from under her on the first day."

"No. I don't. So I'm encouraging her and keeping the snide comments in my head. It's," he checks his watch, "16:08, and I've said nothing, nothing at all even remotely off color." He can feel Gibbs smirk at that.

"What's the case?"

Tony crumples. He can hear the longing in Gibbs' voice. He shouldn't have called. Not today. But he answers anyway, because right now lying would be worse. "Triple homicide. We thought it was a kidnapping, but we've found the girl."

Gibbs goes quiet on the other line, and Tony can feel him actively forcing himself not to offer to come back and lend a hand.

"We've got it, Gibbs."

"I'm sure you do," he says, slowly.

"We do."

Gibbs sighs. "I know you do. Doesn't mean I don't want to help."

"Yeah, sorry. Just needed to bitch about Tinkerbelle. To someone who'd get it."


"She's really, really cute in addition to being every green you ever imagined. She spent the morning sitting cross-legged on your desk, ear buds in, humming gently to country pop music, while munching caramel popcorn and filling out the forms."

Gibbs chuckles at that mental image. "How are Ziva and Draga doing?"

"I'll let Ziva tell you herself. Draga's kicked into Older-Know-It-All-Big-Brother routine. Oh, you'll like this, Vance headed down for something, walked by the bullpen, saw her on your desk, stopped, stared at her, then stared at me, stared at her some more, she completely missed it, didn't see it at all, then he looked down, slowly exhaled, shook his head and continued on. Ziva saw it, too, and laughed out loud as soon as Vance was out of range."

Gibbs sniggers at that, and Tony's sure he hears another woof in the background.

"Are you getting a dog?"

Gibbs snorts a quick laugh at that, too. "Back to work, DiNozzo. Someone's gotta keep Tinkerbelle and Flyboy in line."

"On it."



"They bickering at each other, yet?"

Tony sighs and rolls his eyes. He knows exactly what Gibbs is thinking with this. "They're a lot younger than we were."

"Thirty-five and thirty versus, twenty-nine and… how old is she?"


He can feel Gibbs shake his head, and remembers the question he hasn't yet answered. "No bickering yet, but yeah, it's coming."

He can feel Gibbs smile before the line goes dead.

17:00 rolls by. So does 18:00. "Draga, you don't have Kevin right now, right?" Tony asks.

Draga's still working his way through the fingerprints. "Not until President's Day Weekend."

"Okay." Tony looks around at the house. The bodies are out. All of the blood spatters have been sampled. They've still got… Lord, fingerprinting everything. "Bishop, you're on finding us food. Then we're working until 22:00. We'll find a hotel, sack out there, and get back at it first thing tomorrow."

Draga and Ziva nod.

"I don't have a change of clothing."

"No one's gonna mind if you wear the same thing two days in a row. Draga'll brief you on what sort of gear you need when we break to eat," Tony says. "But every day you come to work, you never know where work is going to take you, so you need a bag with everything you'll want for an overnight, maybe two."

"Okay. Then… I'll… just find us some food."


"I don't get it," Bishop says.

"No one gets things like this, Bishop. If you 'get' something like this, you've gone over to the dark side," Draga replies, without looking away from his computer screen.

"No. I mean… I was talking to Ducky yesterday…" Monday they processed the scene. That took the entire day. Tuesday they finished processing the scene and then worked on witness statements, rebuilding the crime, trying to figure out what the hell happened. Wednesday they dug into the vic's lives. Today, they feel like they've got a handle on what happened: at least four people broke in and killed the Tennus, but why is still anyone's guess. "We were working on the profile of who does stuff like this. One guy could be some sort of insane loon out for whatever messed-up crazy's in his head, but this was at least four guys, so insane loner is out. The way it was done, bloody, everyone in the family, that's a message, but to whom? We've found nothing…"

Draga's scowling at the computer screen. He can feel DiNozzo watching him. (Even though he's technically not in the room right now.) DiNozzo hasn't said it yet, but he knows he's thinking 'McGee would have found the thing that breaks the crime open by now. Do your computer magic and find me the answer!' But the answer isn't there, and every night Draga heads home, seeing Brian Tennu, dead on the floor, holding his baseball bat, and he just wants to throw up or hit someone.

"You aren't listening to me."

"No, I'm not. I'm doing my job."

"I'm trying to help you do your job! We're looking in the wrong place."

Draga looks up from his screen at her. She's sitting cross-legged on her desk, sipping a coffee, looking very determinedly at the crime scene shots up on the plasma and the what looks like hundreds of other pictures she's got scattered around the desk, on the chair, on the floor, and taped onto the book shelf.

"It's not right! Groups of guys do not go on murder sprees just for kicks."

"The Mansons," Draga says, dryly.

She glares at him. The Mansons is not helpful. Random, crazy, evil will not get this case solved. "Not like this. Too tidy for Manson wannabes." She doesn't actually know if that's true, but she's hoping it is. Because if this is some sort of Manson crap… then there's no pattern, and she's useless for solving this. "If it was terror. If they were targeted because they were military, someone would have claimed this by now, and they probably would have been beheaded. If they were targeted for something they had done, you would have found it. There's no trace at all that the Tennus were into anything that could get them killed. Not like this. Not the kid, too."

"Sounds like crazy people."

"It's not! Just…. It's not!"

"Okay, fine! They would have killed the boy to keep him from identifying them."

"Sure, that's logical, but why show up when the kids are home in the first place? You're going to show up at someone's home to kill them, you pick a time when just the people you want are home, right?"

Draga doesn't roll his eyes. He knows Bishop's married, knows she has family, but somehow this hasn't filtered through. "It's a family, Bishop. If Mom and Dad are home, the kids probably are, too."

"Maybe…" She's not really paying attention to him. She's staring at the shots, looking at them, feeling a deep level of just all-out wrong. "Still doesn't feel right. This pattern's off." Assuming there is a pattern to this and it's not just crazy, evil. Can't be just crazy, evil. Can't be! "I'm heading down to the Lab. They've got to have the DNA results back."

Draga snorts at that. "Maybe. We sent them over 500 samples of just blood spatter alone. Who knows if they've gotten to hair, yet. And we dusted the whole damn house for prints. Just scanning them all in probably took six hours."

"I'll go check." She hops off the desk and heads down to the lab.

Tony and Ziva were already in there, listening to Abby expound on blood spatter.

Bishop tries to keep calm as she hovers in the back, watching Abby go through a computer simulation showing how each member of the family died, but it's difficult. She's feeling scared and sad and excited and angry all at once.

"That it, Abby?" Tony asks.

"Of course not, Tony! We've been on this all night. I've got more than blood spatter analysis for you." She flicks the clicker in her hand and a new image pops up onto her plasma screen. "The bullets Ducky took out of the Tennus are favored by both the Russian Mafia and no less than three Colombian drug cartels."

Bishop hears that, and it clicks. She knows why this doesn't fit. She turns and goes sprinting up the stairs.

"Draga, you've got that almost photographic memory, right?"

He rolls his eyes. "I've got good visual recall. I don't have an eidetic memory."

"Good enough, I hope. When we drove up, it was a split driveway, right? Four houses off of it, but the mailboxes were all at the end of the driveway, right?"

He thinks about that. "Yeah, that's how I remember it."

"Did the Tennu's house have a number on it?" She asks, clicking through the pictures on the plasma.

He thinks for a few minutes. "Don't remember one. Just that it was way the hell back in the trees."

She gives up on the photos. She took literally thousands of them, not like just flipping through will find a house number or not. She turns back to Draga. "According to Abby, the bullets that killed the Tennus are a sort that's popular with several drug cartels and the Russian Mafia."

"What?" Draga had to admit that he didn't think this looked right, either. The financials, the phone records, the service records, social media, everything he could dig up on the Tennus showed a very average, middle-class, Navy family. Nothing he could find should have gotten them killed, let alone by any sort of organized crime syndicate. Unlike Bishop, who had decided that this was "wrong," he decided he'd missed something and was looking through their lives even harder.

"That's why this isn't right." She's clearing off her desk, quickly stacking her collection of photos up on the corner of the desk.

"There's nothing about them that would get them involved with…"

"Check their neighbors! Long driveway, out in the sticks. The houses all look kind of the same. They were the second one on the left, but no one's got a number. I think they got the wrong house."

"You think someone broke in and slaughtered everyone because they were at the wrong house?" Given what he's found on the Tennus, that's making a distressing amount of sense.

"I think if we check the neighbors we're going to find a hell of a lot more motive for this than we are by studying the Tennus!"

She's sitting behind her own computer pulling up her notes. They talked to the neighbors. Well, the neighbors at two of the four houses. No one was home at the fourth one. They'd left cards, and told the LEOs to keep stopping by, and from the looks of it, completely forgot about it because the vast amount of everything else in this case took precedent.

"The empty house was the second one on the right. Ian McKenna and Brigit Heyn live there."

Draga's keying those names in. "Those are some really Russian Mafia sounding names."

"'Cause no one in the history of names ever had a fake ID. I had one back in the day."

He looks up from his computer, really surprised. "You had a fake ID?"

She pauses, staring at him. "You didn't?" She's amazed by that.

"So did I," Tony says, sending them his best stop fucking around glare, watching both of them jerk in their seats. "Ziva had tons of them, but I'm not seeing how this is relevant to solving a triple homicide,"

Bishop almost runs up to him and starts talking, fast and excited.

"Breathe between sentences, Bishop."

"Okay." And a pile of new words spill out. But, he's liking those words, and Ziva is looking very interested by this idea.

"Draga," Ziva says, "track down McKenna and Heyn. Come on, Bishop, we are heading to check on their house."

Tony just nods at Ziva, pleased with her grabbing Bishop. "You want extra back up?"

Ziva shakes her head.

"If McKenna and Heyn are the intended recipients of that treatment, they are long gone by now. And if Abby is correct about who was shooting, our shooters know they will not be back to that house."

Tony nods at that. He knows what his job is, get the warrant, connect this to any other similar hits. If these were pros, they're long gone, and that burns, but there's also a good shot that he can find more of their work, and get a hint of where long gone might be.

And, if he's right, and hiring pattern-girl was a good plan, maybe she can turn a hint into a clue, and a clue into four professional killers in custody.

And learn from the house they did.

"They left awfully fast," Bishop says, once they get in. Everything is still exactly as it was dropped. There's cold food on the table, the refrigerator door is open, as they get upstairs they can see that the closets are full.

The house looks like they just… stepped out to the back porch or something.

Or something.

Upstairs and downstairs are a normal looking home. Nothing suspicious, nothing out of place.

The basement was an entirely different story.

"Is this a…" Bishop's squinting at the tables, chemicals, cooling equipment, chewing her bottom lip. "Meth lab?"

It doesn't quite look like that to Ziva. She shakes her head. "Ecstasy, I think. They do not use," she points to a massive pill tabber, "for Meth."

"Oh." Bishop looks around. She can tell Ziva's seeing something, but she's not sure what it is, and then she is. There are four empty boxes for zip lock bags, but no zip lock bags. "Oh! How much do you think they took with them."

Ziva picks up a box. "Fifty bags per box. They are sandwich bags so… what do you think? They'd hold about a cup of pills?"

That feels about right to Bishop. "So, a trunk full Ecstasy?"

"I believe so."

"What do you have, Ziva?" Tony asks when she calls in.

"Possible good news. McKenna and Heyn are definitely on the run, with what looks like a trunk full of Ecstasy."

"A trunk full?"

"I'm sending you the photographs." And she does, then says, "As you can see, they've got a full production lab set up down in the basement, and we found boxes that held bags, but no bags, and no pills."

Tony nods at that. "So, they'd have a difficult time moving from one car to another."

"They'll at least have several large bags to carry around. And once they sell their product, they'll have bags of cash. They cannot travel light until they stash everything."

"And if they're still out there…"

"With any luck our assassins are out there, too."

"With any luck. Fornell put me in touch with Gables, an FBI agent who specializes in the Russian Mafia, and according to him, what we've got matches four other open cases. He hooked me up with Hallahan, who's out of the DEA and also works with them on these cases, and all three of us are going to be confabbing soon. I've got Draga setting the BOLOs and making sure that McKenna and Heyn are on everyone's radar."
Ziva's nodding along with that as Bishop dusts everything for prints.

"I will be sending prints to Abby soon. She can make sure we are not looking for unidentified bodies in a morgue somewhere."

"Thanks." McKenna and Heyn are their only good leads. Having them turn up dead would end this case.

"We will get back as soon as we can."

"Good. Love you."

"And you."

Part of how he envisioned this whole working on bigger cases, more terrorism angles, was the idea that he'd be working with other organizations, team building, and sure, this isn't precisely the sort of case he was thinking of, but it was the same skillset.

Getting all of the info out of Hallahan and Gables took all of his skill, all of his charm, a bit of butt kicking, and when push came to shove, his own version of the Gibbs-stare-of-doom, but he did eventually get access to what turned out to be eleven cases with the same type of bullets (shot from different guns though), same MO, believed to have been carried out by the same four man team. (They have concrete DNA samples of all four of them, but not all in the same places at the same time.)

"Okay, Bishop, find me some patterns. Where do these guys go when they aren't working?" he says, dropping the stack of paperwork on her desk.

She stares at what is literally a foot high stack of paper with three thumb drives on top. Then she starts spreading things out, grinning. "Ziva, you need your desk right now?"

Ziva shakes her head. She didn't have anything to run down right this second that would require her desk. (She's calling everyone she knows in Interpol, and also a few associates in Russia who she "technically" doesn't know, but might be willing to slip her some intel on this.) She can do that just as easily leaning against Tony's desk.

Bishop may be every shade of green to ever green. She may be gently rolling hills of misty Ireland, green upon green upon green, but here, now, with a pile of hard data and dots to connect and blanks to fill in, Bishop is in her element.

Her very untidy, chaotic, and wild element. Honestly, Tony finds it vaguely uncomfortable to have this much buzzing (She's got music she's listening to, sometimes when she's really thinking, she hums along to it, and she's constantly eating something, so between the dull music, the humming, and the chewing there is a literal buzz that goes with Bishop at work.) activity spread out all over the place right next to him.

But it also seems to be working.

She's building maps. The maps he follows. He's good with the maps. Where the attacks were, who was at them, (They don't have hard names yet, so right now It's just A, B, C, and D.) and who died.

She's building a timeline, which he's also good with. Once again, who was where, when, doing what.

And she's got a database going, which Tony doesn't understand, but as he takes a quick break from the hunt for McKenna and Heyn, Draga checks her work, nods approvingly, and then gets everyone more to drink.

It takes two hours before she gets her first of what Tony considers useful conclusions. "They aren't leaving the US between jobs. I don't think they're leaving the east coast." She points out what happened when and where, adding in a few cases that the FBI and the DEA didn't offer, that she had culled from local PDs that also matched the pattern. "They're working too hard, too fast. And this one," she points to a job in from 2009. A woman found dead in her home in Ohio, her husband went missing, is still missing. "I think this one is the key. A's DNA, his prints, too, but nothing for B, C, or D, and usually we find traces of at least two of them. When the… LEOs?" Tony nods at her, "First looked at it they assumed that A was one of the men who broke in, because his rap sheet was a mile long. I don't think that's right. This is A's house. His prints were all over everything. They found his blood, because someone went after him there. Then there's two years where A's prints don't show up, but B, C, and D are active. And then in 2011, they're all back and working again. Someone grabbed A, held him for however long, and then he got out again."

Tony's listening to that, looking up the case. "Yitzack Havawicz was the name of the missing husband. Sounds more Polish than Russian."

"Fake name? Fake ID? How many people in Woodduck, Ohio can tell the difference between a Polish and Russian accent?" Draga adds.

"Good point." Tony keeps reading, while Draga tosses a shot of Yitzack (Blurry, quarter profile, Yitzack appears to have done a very good job of avoiding having his picture taken. There wasn't even a wedding shot of him.) up on the plasma. Along with the only full face photo they could find of him, his driver's license.

"According to what I'm seeing, he's a Polish national, immigrated in 2005, his and the wife's tax returns list him as self-employed as a long-distance currier/delivery person," Draga says.

"Good excuse to travel all the time," Ziva says as she comes back to the bullpen.

"Draga, can you put up the file I just sent you?"


Two more shots pop up, and one of them Draga squints at, and then throws up next to Yitzack's driver's license shot. "If they aren't the same guy…"

Tony's nodding.

"Illyan Fedoryvich," Ziva says, "was serving time in Russian prison for multiple murders until 2000 when he, and," she looks to Draga, and he tosses up the next shot, "Mikial Blezun escaped. They fell off the radar from 2000 until…" She looks at Bishop's timeline. "2003 apparently. Abby is running the prints to make sure, but Blezun is probably C; he was known to be handy with a switchblade." Evidence of C showed up at several cases that seemed to involve knives as well.

Bishop's smiling. "This is great, right? We've got names to go with two of them!"

Tony nods tiredly at her. "Yes. Names are good. But even with names, we don't know where they are, we don't know who B and D are, and cases that involve professionals tend to be sticky because they're usually good at hiding."

Truer words were never spoken. By Monday, a week into the case, they had all four names. (Fedoryvich, Blezun, Poppotic, and "Smith," no one knew who "Smith" really was.) They had a list of cases attached to those names two feet long. They had physical evidence, circumstantial evidence, financial evidence, electronic evidence.

What they didn't have was any clue (beyond somewhere on the East Coast, maybe, probably, ish) of their perps were.

The FBI came back to him saying that if they put their computers on it, they could, if they get lucky, turn up with someone on the facial recognition software anytime between now and the end of time.

So, after hearing that, a little before noon on Monday, Tony heads down to Cybercrime.

It's buzzing away down there. He can hear fingers clicking, dull music through earbuds, the sound of two Minions playing something… When did they get an X-box One down here? Yet alone sofas? He knew McGee was going to change the place up, but… He sees the Caf-Pow dispenser on the far wall and smiles.

Looks like McGee found a way to get Abby down here.

He follows the far wall toward Tim's office, and sees him in there. He knocks on the door, and Tim glances up at him, looking… really tired.

"You okay?"

"Hmm?" And distracted, he's looking really distracted as he says, "Oh, yeah. What's up?"

Of course, Tim gets that way when he's into his code up to his elbows, so… maybe this is just him working hard. Tony explains his facial recognition software issues.

"And you're what? Hoping I can do it faster?" Tim's actually sounding really testy to go with tired.

Tony shuts the door. "Really, are you okay?"

Tim shakes his head. "Fine. Just… No. If the FBIs on it, I can't do it faster. They've got more resources to throw at the problem, and this is a resource problem."

"Tim? Screw the case for a second. What's up? Or is it classified?"

He shakes his head again. "No. It's not a work thing. It's… I don't even know who we're telling… Gibbs and Jimmy because we told them at Bootcamp, but…"

Tony's feeling cold down his back. "What?"

Tim doesn't look at him as he says, "On Saturday morning, the pregnancy test was positive, and today she started her period… or miscarried. We don't know. According to her doc, this early on, there's no way to tell. Could have been a false positive."

"Oh, shit, Tim." Tony closes in on him and puts his hand on Tim's shoulder.

"It's not the end of the world. It's not Jimmy and Breena and Jon. We barely had time to get excited about it, but… It's really, really disappointing."

"God, yeah… Shit!"

Tim nods, slowly. "Yeah. It's really common. And, like… I mean if we weren't using the most sensitive test out there, we probably would have never known. But, we did know, so, it hurts."

"I'm so sorry."

Tim nods. "I know."

"How's Abby?"

He sighs, and shrugs. "'Bout like me." Tim shakes his head. "It's not a good day to be a lab tech."

"She's here?"

"Stay home and dwell on it, or work it away here, helping to catch bad guys and give someone else a good day. I think we're both quitting early, though, spend some extra time cuddling Kelly."

Tony nods at that.

"You want me to tell Jimmy?"

Tim shakes his head. "Already made lunch plans with him."


"You can tell Ziva, too. We'll be okay, but, just sad and disappointed right now."

Tony nods. Hugs him, fast. "I really am sorry for you."

"I know. Wish I could solve your problem for you."

"Don't worry about it. We'll wait for the FBI."

Tim manages a limp smile for him. "I should get back to…"

"I'm out of here." So, in addition to so frustrated by waiting he wants to chew his own arm off, Tony's got a good dose of sad for his friends. He makes a quick detour to the lab, and sees that Abby is off. Everything about her right now is depressed and droopy. (If she still had ponytails, they'd be drooping.)

"Hey Abby."

"What do you need, Tony?" She's also sounding sharp and prickly. He can see the LabTechs staring at her, wondering what on earth is wrong with their Boss today. He knows they don't know, and he's sure Abby doesn't want them to know.

He smiles at her and opens his arms. "The case is kicking my ass, and I need a hug." She rolls her eyes, not in a hug mood, but he wiggles his finger in a come here manner, and she does, wrapping her arms around him, him wrapping his around her. When she gets into his arms, he whispers in her ear, "And Tim tells me you need one, too."

She sniffs at that, swallows hard.

He kisses her ear and once more whispers, "I'm so sorry."

She nods, melting against him for a moment. Then she pulls back from him. "Better?"

"Yeah. I needed that. So, you got anything interesting for me?"

"AFIS linked in three more cases."

"Anything that breaks Bishop's pattern?"

Abby shakes her head. "Nope. Judging by how busy these guys are, I'd say this is the main hit squad on the East Coast for the Russian Mafia."


"Any idea why they're so careless about leaving fingerprints around?" Abby asks, and he can feel her focusing in on the case as a distraction.

"Bishop thinks it might be part of the message. She called it, 'The Dread Pirate Roberts' effect."

Abby perks up slightly at that. "Everyone knows the Dread Pirate Roberts leaves no survivors, but somehow the rumor has to spread, and these prints is how they're build their reputation."

"That's her idea. Not sure how well it's supposed to work on people who aren't cops, but maybe that's the idea, keep the cops nervous about going up against them."

"I guess." Abby thinks about that for a second. "Could be darker. If the Russian Mob's as connected as they're supposed to be, see those prints and you start losing evidence and you put the D Team on the case."

Tony hates that idea, but it's plausible.

"You have anything new?" Abby asks.

He shakes his head. "Waiting for facial ID. Waiting for McKenna and Heyn to surface. Just, waiting. Trying not to channel Gibbs looking for Ari."

She nods at that.

"Okay. I'll get back to it. Thanks for the hug."

She nods again.

More waiting.

Tony hates waiting. This is possibly months of waiting, for what might be a hint of a guy walking through a mall ten months ago.

He hates the fact that he can't tell Rob and Maryanne Tishuccia that they've got the men who killed their daughter, son-in-law, and grandson. Telling them that their family was in the wrong place at the wrong time was bad, having no answers for them is worse.

He hates the fact that they can't find Heyn or McKenna, either. If they could find them, they could sit on them and wait for the next attempt on them. Then swoop in and grab everyone all up at once. But even with everyone BOLOed out the eyes, they're getting nothing.

Not exactly a shock. Sure they've got to be driving something big enough to move their pills. But they're basically a walking ATM. Scrape up enough cash to get into a club with a handful of pills. Come on out again with a pile of new cash. No financial pings. No electronic pings. (Because the first damn thing they probably bought with their pile of cash was a mess of burner phones.)


No one likes working with the DEA. As Federal Agencies go, they're only one step above the IRS when it comes to having a reputation for being flaming assholes. However, Hallahan, appears to be a decent guy, and, much to Tony's surprise, is waiting for him in the bullpen on Tuesday morning.


"Guess who got word of a big player on the E market coming into town looking to move a lot of product."

"Are you for real?" Tony asks, feeling himself relax for the first time in days.

Hallahan nods, grinning. "It's even the right sort. Snake-eyes!" Heyn and McKenna had stamped their pills with a little set of die showing snake eyes.

"Thank you."

"Now, look. I know you want them for bait, but if they get away, and I don't get a bust on them, not only will my ass be in a sling, but I'm going to hunt you down and stick yours in one."

"We'll keep track of them. Where's it supposed to happen?"

Hallahan sighs. "At a club, where else? A hot, trendy, young place that you and I can't get into." If Hallahan's a day under forty-five, Tony wouldn't believe it. Neither of them are young or hip anymore. And while it's true that he'd much rather have experienced hands for something like this, at the very least he's got people who are young and can probably fake hip.

"Lucky for you, I've got some hot, young things on tap."

Both of them look at Bishop, on her desk, drawing more dots on her map, and Draga, walking into the office.

"We're going undercover!" Bishop's so excited she's about ready to pop. Draga's only marginally cooler. It's like every single James Bond fantasy is about to come true, for both of them.

"Yes, you are, but on a tight leash. There's exactly three things I want you two doing. Do not arrest them. Do not let them know you're watching them. The whole goal of this is to get a bug on one or both of them, preferably on their car as well," Tony says after sharing Hallahan's bounty.

"Cool! Oh… do we have micro RFID trackers? We could buy some of the E, stick the trackers on the bills. They're selling because they're unloading and getting ready to run, so they'll probably keep the money with them, right?"

"And if we can get one on the car, and maybe… How big are those things?" Draga asks.

"The ones we used at the NSA were smaller than a grain of rice. Brush up against someone's coat or something, and they'd never find it tucked into a fold or pocket. The ones we used on the money, well, you know those strips in the bills, we'd yank 'em out and stick one of our own in."

Draga's grinning at that. "Good. So it's a club, people will be dancing, rub up against one of them—"

"They probably won't be on the dance floor," Tony says, seeing both Draga and Bishop stare at him like he's a million years old and probably couldn't identify a club if he tripped on one. "They're there to move a lot of product. Pounds and pounds of it. This isn't the sort of thing you do slipping pills and bills to each other."
That seems to make a distressing amount of sense to them.

"So, yes," Tony continues, "You are going to arrange a buy. The RFIDs on the bills sounds like a good plan. Got to talk to Abby to see if we can get them on there in a way that won't stick out," and if we have them, "plus get you two all suited up for the job. Ziva and I are going to get their car, and if there's a chance for it, Ziva'll lift one of their phones, and get a tracker in there, too."

Ziva nods, Child's play on her face.

"And then we hope Fedoryvich, "Smith," Blezun, and Poppotic go after them again?" Draga asks.

"And then we hope. And when they do, we sweep in and grab everyone."

Bishop thinks for a moment. "Um…" She's biting her lip, looking nervous and resolved. "Judging on what we found in the house, how do we sweep in without ending up in a firefight?"

"You're qualified on a pistol and a rifle, correct?" Tony asks her. She had said she had all her FLETC proficiencies, but double checking is always a good thing.

"Well, yes, but…" She's looking a little green at the idea of a shoot-out.

"Hopefully the 'You're surrounded, give up,' technique works. If it doesn't, then we'll all be wearing vests, making sure we've got good cover, and going in and taking them out," Tony says.

"You don't think they're going to go after them at the club, do you?" Draga asks.

"Nope," Bishop says. "Way too messy. The only thing, besides connections to the Russian Mob, that all of their vics have in common is they were hit at home or in a hotel room. These guys aren't going to storm a club with two hundred other people."

Tony's pleased by that. "But…" he says, hopefully leading her on.

Bishop's thinking, but Draga catches it first. "But if they're hooked in like we are, and they probably are, they'll be watching the club, too, waiting for them to move, get alone, and then go in."

Tony smiles. "Exactly right, Flyboy. So, hunting for them is what Ziva and I are going to be doing while you're in getting trackers on Heyn and McKenna. If we can grab them before they go after our favorite E dealers, all the better. Then we can grab our favorite E dealers sweet and easy as you please."

"All right!"

"So, what's the club?" Draga asks.

"Unity," Tony replies and sees Bishop light up and Draga's face drop. "What?"

"Ravers," Draga replies, looking like he's sucking on a lemon.

"Oh, come on. This'll be fun!"

"We're not going in to party!"

"I know. But the music will be—"

"Crap. Electronic, overloud, crap."


"It's crap!"

Tony cuts in, "We can talk about the music later, or better yet, never. Club opens at midnight. I want both of you going home, get some rest, back here at nine, with whatever the hell it is you wear to a rave already on."

"Good Lord." Tony is not, no matter what McGee might think, a prude. He's just not. And in any other circumstance, he'd probably appreciate what Bishop's wearing. But, well, it's lingerie. From everything he can tell, she left her outfit at home and just showed up in white thigh high boots and her undies.

They're really snazzy undies. White bra with little sparkly things all over it. White boy shorts panties, with more little sparkly things (spelling out LOVE on her butt) and dangly sliver chains looping around the waistband on the front. But they're still undies.

"You look perfect, Bishop." Abby says. "We don't have any white glasses with a camera in them… So…" She's rummaging through their gear. "I know! You okay with pony tails?"

"Sure." Her hair had been down.

"Okay, let's get your hair up. I can get a mic hidden in your ponytail holder." Abby pulls her hair into two high ponytails and leaves a few wisps by each ear. Then she hands Bishop an earwig. "That goes in, and then off to ballistics to do a sound test."

Tony's watching her set Bishop up. "So you're saying you can't get eyes on her?"

"I don't have anything that'll look right. And if these guys are as nervous as they should be, they'll notice if something is off. But," she holds up a pair of thick-rimmed, black, hipster glasses, "Draga'll have these on. We'll be good. Speaking of Draga, where is he?"

Ziva prods him into the lab at that. "Here," he says, sounding sulky.

They all look at him.

"I hate raves. I hate ravers. I hate neon."

"Yeah, you're the poster boy for Peace, Love, Unity, and Respect." Bishop says as she heads out. "Abby, how about you come. You're almost dressed for it, and I know you've done this before."

Abby smiles a bit at that, looking more like herself. "Not tonight, not for me. And Eric, you look fine." He does look fine. He's wearing a pair of sneakers, black jeans loose enough that the top inch of his boxers is showing, black light paint highlighting his tattoo and on his lips, and that's it. "Okay, let's get you geared up. Now you're the only one who's going to have visual contact, so remember, you're the one who's making sure that everyone else can see what's going on. You'll both have sound, but you're eyes."


Abby got him wired up, tested his sound and visuals, and declared everything was good. Then she took them to the next level. "Okay, we've got cash. One out of every five of these bills has an RFID tracker on it." She shows them two pacifiers on necklaces. "These also have trackers on them. If you get a chance, drape them around McKenna or Heyn's neck. They're waterproof, so you can use them yourself."

"Are those Kelly's?" Ziva asks. She's wiring herself up, and getting into her (modified) stealth-ninja garb. No one's going to see her tonight. But, in that she's swapped out her usual black cargo pants for tight black jeans, and the extra warm, padded, pocket studded black sweater for a black leather jacket, if she needs to pretend to be part of the party for a minute, she won't look too off.

"They were going to be, hadn't opened them yet, so it's not like they've got baby drool on them."


Draga picks one up, stares at it, eyes narrow, and shakes his head. "Ravers," he says it like a slur.
Bishop grabs the pink one with the unicorn on it and drapes it over her neck.

Abby touches one last prop. They just look like strips of little stickers. Half of them are little sparkly bits of plastic that will catch the light, half are neon smiley faces. She hands one strip to Draga and one to Bishop. "RFID stickers. Peel it off, pop it on McKenna or Heyn, and you're good to go. They're really sticky, so they'll stay put."

"Can you loosen up at all?" Bishop asks Draga as they wait in line to get into Unity.

"I am loose."

"Uh huh. You're standing at attention. I'd hate to see you at a party."

Tony and Ziva are in the command center van. About two streets back, one block over. They've got a good view of the Unity parking lot through the window, and a great view of everything through the cameras they put up earlier today.

Tony can hear some movement, and the angle of Draga's camera shifts. Tony assumes that means that Draga's getting 'loose.'

Tony covers his microphone and says to Ziva, who's watching the feeds to see when McKenna and Heyn get here, and more importantly what they're driving. "Now I know why Gibbs had white hair." Then he uncovers it and says, "I can hear you two, you know?"

Bishop's hanging on Draga, and he's looking better, but still really stiff and uncomfortable. She wraps her arm around him and kisses his ear, saying. "Look, we're buyers, right?"

"Uh huh."

"Okay. Not anymore. I'm ditzy arm candy, just here to party. You're Mr. Serious Buyer on a mission. You keep them paying attention to you, and I'm going to be drunk and flirty and falling all over everyone."

"I can do that."


"Got them!" Ziva says, pointing out a non-descript Toyota Camry that's riding just a bit too low.

Tony nods, switching the car to his main feed, secondary feed to the door of the club. (Bishop and Draga are now three places from getting in.) Ziva gets a third feed up, locking Heyn's face in place, so the camera will follow it where ever it goes in range.

She zips up the leather jacket and gets ready for part one of their plan.

Tony squeezes her hand and gives her a quick kiss. She smiles back at him and heads out.

He stares at the image of Heyn on the feed, watching carefully. Like Bishop, she's in a warm coat, and probably not much else. Once they get inside, it'll be hot, but out here it's in the high thirties, so everyone is bundled up.

"Left pocket's hanging lower than the right," he says to Ziva.

Ziva brushes by Heyn, a ghost, snagging her cell quickly, adding one of Abby's stickers to it, and putting it back into her pocket before she knows anyone was ever near.

"Done," Ziva says as she heads to the parking lot.

"They're in line, about a hundred people behind you," Tony says to Bishop and Draga.

He sees Draga's video feed bob up and down, must be nodding. "Great!" Bishop says, all perky and bubbly and cute.

Tony fiddles with the tracking software, map of the area coming up, all of the trackers are live, but most of them are in the money, in the trunk of Bishop and Draga's car, some of them are on Bishop, the pacifier and the stickers, more stickers on Draga, and one, he highlights that one, lets the computer know to keep track of that one, is on Heyn's phone.

"Onto the car," Ziva says. This is the tricky bit. If "Smith", Fedoryvich, Poppotic, and Blezun are also in on this, and are waiting for a shot to grab Heyn and McKenna, they're likely also watching the car. So if they see Ziva toss a tracker on it, they are going to get suspicious.

They'd debated about which was the better way to do it, make sure they saw her do it, but make it look like nothing had happened. Or have her do a full on ghost routine.

The parking lot dictated how it would go. It's brightly lit, the spaces are wide, and there are about five hundred spots where you can camp out and get a great view of everything that's going on. It's the ultimate stealth nightmare.

So, step two on the car involves Ziva shifting from one form of ghost, dark, subtle, silent, to another. Drunk party girl heading back to her own car. She's swaying, stumbling, fumbling for her keys in her purse, and with an exaggerated action, pulls them out, overbalances herself, and topples to the ground right behind Heyn's car. She crawls around on the cold ground, trying to grab her keys, missing the first few times, (and in the process tucking two RFID tags onto the car) and then finally gets herself standing, staggers over to a car, puts her key in, turns it, and "finds out she's at the wrong car" a moment later, she does find the right one, gets in, pulls back way too fast, rear ends one of the other cars in the lot (Tony makes a note of the tags, they'll reimburse the owner) and peels out of there.

He can't see the way she's driving, but he's sure she won't drive "sober" until she's a good mile away.

"Ziva's clear. Looked great."

"Of course. Did you catch anyone watching?"

"No. But, like we noticed before, there's more vantage points on that parking lot than there are of home plate in a baseball stadium."

She chuckles at that. "Back in a few minutes."

"And we're in!" Bishop says with a giggle. "Okay, drinks first, then dancing, then…" She sounds so cute and fun.

Draga lets himself get pulled to the bar, where Bishop holds up a finger, bopping around to the music, already moving to it.

Bartender sees her. And she shouts over the music, "White Russian, and for Mr. Boring over there, Dewars."

The bartender nods, and she places a fifty on the bar.

A minute later she shoots back her White Russian and puts the empty shot glass on the table.

"Bishop…" She hears Tony say in her earwig.

"Come on, Babe!" He sees Draga lift his, but it looks completely full when it goes back down. "Oh, Lord, you just really are no fun. Here." She shoots his back, too. "Come on, dancing!" She pulls him onto the dance floor, and once she's draped over him, she says quietly, so Tony and Draga can here.

"Cops can't drink on duty, right? Well, look, I'm not a cop."

"They can't drink because you're not supposed to be working drunk," Tony says, sternly.

"No problem. I can't get drunk."

"What?" Both Tony and Draga say it.

"Just, can't. Same reason I can eat all day and not get fat. My metabolism is insane. Seriously, an hour from now, you can breathalyse me, and I'll come up clear."

"Really?" Tony asks.

"Yep!" She's dancing close and wild, hands and body free and exuberant, but she quietly says, "As soon as we're in and we approach them, I'll have another drink in hand and be sucking it down. Probably buy them a round, too. Wanna be good hosts, right?"

Eventually, McKenna and Heyn come in. They don't get drinks. They don't hit the dance floor. They grab a table, and settle in.

Bishop and Draga continue to dance, watching different people head over to them, quiet deals being made. Twice McKenna gets up, heads out of the club, while Heyn sits with whomever was with the buyer, chatting.

After the third buy, they decide to go in.

Draga heads back to the bar, one thing he's noticed is that everyone who heads over brings drinks, so they'll bring drinks, too.

Bishop is sipping hers as they head over, and sits down next to Heyn. Eric slides into the booth next to McKenna.

McKenna and Heyn just stare at them. "Booth's occupied," McKenna says.

Eric looks at them, then looks at Bishop. "Goddamn, Babe, did you notice there were people sittin' here!" Then he turns to McKenna. "We're here because the booth is occupied, specifically because it's occupied by you, and we'd like to see about doing some business."

Heyn raises an eyebrow.

McKenna shakes his head. "Wrong booth. We're here to party, not do any sort of business."

"Uh huh," Draga says, sounding cool and bored. "Don't let the paint fool you, I'm not nearly as stupid as this looks. You're here to party," he pushes the drinks toward them, "which is why she's been sitting here all night, and you only get up after having a chat with someone, agreeing to a price and an amount. If that's a party, it's awfully lame. If it's a business, though…"

McKenna and Heyn look at each other, some sort of silent communication going on between them. Then McKenna says, "So, you're the brains; who's pretty girl then?"

Bishop giggles. "Watch. Eric." She stands up and he does, too. She takes one of the little stickers, they're about pill shaped, and he gets where she's going with this. He's got a bill in his pocket which rapidly ends up in his hand.

She kisses him the sticker while palming the bill, tidily tucking it into her boot. Then she sits back down, so cute, right next to Heyn, and puts another sticker onto Heyn's shoulder, kissing it, taking another drink. "I'm distribution. You don't think I'm wearing these boots because they're comfortable, do you? And honey, let's put it this way, these" she gestures to her breasts, "look great in this bra, but they're not really that big. Got a lot of room for a really good time in there. And no one gets strip searched at a place like this, so they don't ever find the goods."

"Uh huh." McKenna doesn't look impressed. "Goodbye, Smalltime," he says, waving at the door.

Bishop pouts and throws herself in his lap while Draga bristles. "Smalltime?" He pulls up his phone and pulls up a shot. It's the trunk of their car, in the trunk is a gym bag filled with nicely stacked bills. "Two hundred and fifty thousand dollars." (All the cash NCIS could scrape up on ten hours' notice.)

McKenna shakes his head and pinches Bishop's butt. "God, you two are cute, but I don't get out of this booth for under a million. Come back when you're ready to play."

Bishop pouts at him again, looking very cute and very determined. She drapes her pacifier over his neck and says, "Fine. You don't want our money, we're gone!" Then she gets up, very huffy, intentionally wobbling on her feet, and heads off. "Coming, Eric?"

Draga's stuck, he wants at least one more tracker on them. He feels around in his pocket and finds the matchbook he'd grabbed earlier and gets a sticker on it. He writes his name and number on it. "On the off chance you change your mind. My money spends just as well as theirs does."

McKenna rolls his eyes but takes the matchbook.

He's dancing with Bishop, well into the middle of the crowd when he feels safe to say, "Now what?"

"Leave them be. Get eyes on anyone who's buying. DEA'll like that. Ziva got their car, you got trackers on them, it's good enough," Tony says. The whole time he was watching them run the buy attempt he was halfway between wanting to shout directions in their ears and stay silent, afraid that they'd startle or spook or, God, worse, McKenna or Heyn might hear a whisper of his voice.

Silent won. He didn't want either of them looking like they were hearing voices in their head while they made the deal.

"Should we approach someone who looks like they made a successful buy?" Bishop asks.

"Sure," Tony says. DEA'll like that even better and it'll make them look even less like cops.

They dance for an hour, scanning the crowd, watching McKenna get up and head outside with two more men. One of whom did come back into the crowd to party and celebrate. And who they were able to buy two hundred and fifty thousand dollars' worth of Snake Eyes from.

Bishop sat there, smiling at McKenna and Heyn, waving, as Draga heads out into the parking lot, taking care of the actual sale.

Heyn heads over to her, which surprises Bishop, but she tries to keep it off her face. Heyn's holding a pill on her fingertip, looks like a Snake Eyes. "Could have sworn you were a cop."

Bishop snags the pill and downs it, giggling. "Why would you say that?" What the hell are you doing!?! Tony's yelling in her ear. He can't see what she's up to, but obviously he's got a feel for something going on.

"Because we know every buyer here, and we don't know you."

"Your damn loss. Wanna dance?"

Heyn shakes her head. "We'll be in town for two more days. You come by any more cash, come see us. We'll give you a better price than Green did."

"Sure." Heyn heads off, and Bishop heads into the center of the room. She's not feeling weird, yet, but she's guessing that she's got, at most, ten minutes before her body starts dissolving the tab. One song. She's going to dance for one song, then she's hitting the head and throwing up.

Yes, it's true she can't get drunk, but she's got no idea what'll happen to her if she gets any real dose of E in her system.

"Bishop, what did you just do?" Tony's asking in her ear, again.

"You don't want to know," she sings along with the music.

"Draga get back in there."

"I'm fine. Nothing I can't handle."

"If you test positive for E, your job is over."

"Uh huh." She starts bopping toward the ladies' room. There's a line. Fuck that. She stumbles into the men's room, retching, and the guys clear a path for her as she stumbles/runs to one of the stalls.

She's not a fan of throwing up, and throwing up booze is no fun at all, but the pill comes up, too, and it's in good shape. She staggers out, looking disheveled, a little embarrassed, but able to pass as just another drunk party girl. (Probably because she's in a men's room filled with drunk guys.)

Draga's scanning the room for her. He knows where she is, the com links are making sure of that. But the character he's playing doesn't.

She waves to him. He smiles and waves at her. She nods. Waves back to Heyn and McKenna, and the two of them leave. After all, job's done, they got their goods, why stick around?

Tony watches them make it to their car, feeling like he's got to have a very long, very detailed, very explicit conversation with Bishop about what the hell is appropriate behavior when undercover.

Ziva, on the other hand, is awfully impressed. "She would have done well in Mossad."

"Yeah, great. You guys didn't have any rules. She gets hit with a random piss test anytime in the next year or two…"

"She will be fine. She got the pill up before it could do any harm…" He's watching Heyn and McKenna's car. (DEA was going to be thrilled with them, they have five buys on camera now.) Someone… "Do you think that's Blezun?"

Ziva squints at the feed. Right general shape and size. He's also doing the drunk partier routine, and like Ziva conveniently "trips" next to Heyn's car.

"Oh shit!" Tony says quietly. "Ziva…"

"I'm on him."

"Guys, things just got interesting. Blezun just planted a bomb under Heyn and McKenna's car. He did it fast and easy, so it's a remote detonator, not hard-wired in, which means he's got to stay close enough to set it off. Ziva's following him. Draga, get to her for backup. Bishop, I want you back in the club, if I say go, I want you to pull the fire alarm and get those people out of there."

"On it." "Got it." Came from Bishop and Draga.

"Ziva, I've still got eyes on him, he's heading back toward the parking garage across the street. Draga, what's your ETA for Ziva?"

"Less than a minute."

"Good. You got vest on?"

Tony can hear fast breathing, and the feed on Draga's camera is bouncing up and down, then for a second everything goes black, and he hears the ripping sound of Velcro. "Just pulled it on. You want me to find her, or just grab a good spot in the parking garage?"

Tony the husband wants him right on Ziva's ass. Tony the cop, the leader, has an idea of what might be going on, there's a white van on the third floor of the parking garage facing this parking lot. He can't see in, the street lights and garage lights are reflecting into the glass, making it opaque, but his gut is saying that's where to go.

"Third floor, parking garage. White van overlooking the club's lot. That's where I think he's going. Ziva, you have eyes on him?"


"Okay. I'm going blind right now." He gets into the front seat of his van, grabbing the sniper rifle they have in their inventory. It takes a second but he gets it set so he's got focus on the van, thanking God that they picked a spot where they could actually see the Unity parking lot, and by extension, the parking garage next to it. "And I've got eyes on the van. Blezun still heading in that direction?"

"Yes he is," Ziva answers.

"So, what's the plan? We follow him, close in, and ask them to surrender?" Draga asks.

"No. You are going to find a nice spot somewhere on the third floor where you've got a clean shot at that van. Ziva is going to follow him, close in, and ask him or them to surrender, and when he just about wets his pants laughing, I am going to very nearly miss his head with a bullet. If he or they don't surrender then, things are going to get sticky. But if he goes for a gun, you kill him. Got it."

"Yes, sir."

"Good. Ziva?"

"Entering the parking garage, heading for the elevator. I'm hanging back. Draga?"

"Just got to the third floor. Bishop?"

"Just got back in, looking for a fire alarm."

"He's in the elevator. The three is lit up."

"You want me to ask him to surrender?" Draga says. "I'm in position."

Tony wishes that he could keep aim on the van and still see from Draga's camera. A quick glimpse of who is in there and where would be worth its weight in gold. "No, let him get to the van. Better yet, try to see who's in the van. They aren't going to blow up the car until McKenna and Heyn are in it. They'll probably want to follow it until it's out of range of a whole lot of other people. They'll stick around for at least a few more minutes, long enough for Ziva to go in."

"Okay." Draga says, "Elevator just binged. Doors are opening. I've got eyes on him. He's coming toward the van…"

Tony scans his scope toward the elevator. "Got him." He watches Blezun head to the van, open the doors, and, yes, he can see Fedoryvich, in the far back for a second. "Smith" and Poppotic must be in the front seat, that is, if they're there at all. He gets a quick glimpse of a shit ton of guns, and what looks like a lot of electronics before the van door closes.

"You see that?" Draga asks Tony.

"Yes. They're in there with enough firepower to take out France. Ziva?"

"Entering the elevator right now."


"I've got the fire alarm. DiNozzo, how do I keep them from all flooding out toward the bomb?"

Shit, Tony hadn't thought about that. "Only reason I want you to pull it is if McKenna and Heyn try to leave. I'm hoping that with that much potential collateral damage they won't pull the trigger until after McKenna and Heyn are well out of range."

"Hope you're right."

"Me too! Ziva?"

"Elevator just stopped, doors are opening."

"I've got eyes on her, DiNozzo, and a clear shot on the van. Wish I had more than a pistol on me."

"You and me both." Ziva clears a truck, and Tony spies her in his scope. "Got you in my sights."

"You always do." Ziva says back. She raises her voice, pulls her gun, and calls out, "Fedoryvich …"


"Yeah, DiNozzo?"

"Tires, now." Tony says a quick prayer, hopes he's as good at this as he thinks he is, and then pulls the trigger, twice, fast, and watches the front tires of the van sink low. Less than a second later he hears two more shots and sees the back end of the trunk sink down.

Ziva's still saying… actually, he doesn't know what she's saying, it's in Russian. But he's pretty sure that it's some variety of come out unarmed with your hands up, you're surrounded.

He catches just the tip of the muzzle (thank God for 10/20 vision) peeking out from the front, passenger side window, pointing toward Ziva. He can't see inside, the lights from the parking lot and garage are still, even two inches lower, reflecting off the glass, but he's got about two tenths of a second before something very, very bad happens, so he fires again, straight through the windshield, about where he assumes a head would be for someone holding the sort of gun that barrel probably goes with.

The barrel jerks, falls back into the van as the windshield shatters, but holds in place. He's got no idea if he hit anyone, but there's no longer a gun pointing at Ziva, (that he can see.)

She's saying something else, still in Russian, but this time he hears a voice respond, also in Russian, and though he wants to see, he's not about to take his aim off the van.

"They're moving out of the van," she says. "Draga, to me, keep the door in sight."

"Got it."

She's barking orders in Russian again, and this time three of them come out, and line up next to the van, where he's got a perfect line of fire on them. Ziva holds her gun on them, too. "Draga, cuff them."

He sees Draga nod, and tuck his gun back into his pants.

"Stand down, Bishop."

"Okay. You want me back in the van?"

"Do you have eyes on McKenna and Heyn?"


"No, stay in the club right now. Keep eyes on them."

He can see Draga cuffing the other three. "Where's number four?" he asks Ziva.

"They say he is dead." She moves around to the side of the van, and looks in through the passenger's side window. He can see her nod. "Clean head shot."

"That's a miracle. From here, I can't see through the windshield."

Ziva says something in Hebrew. Sounds like a prayer. He adds a quick Amen to her words.

"All secure. Everyone is cuffed."

"Good. I'll be up there in a few minutes."

And in a few minutes he did get up there, with the van, to collect Fedoryvich, Blezun, and "Smith." And once collected, (and cuffed to each other, and to the steel bar in the back of the van. They aren't going anywhere.) he called Hallahan, explained exactly what they had done, and that they still had eyes on McKenna and Heyn.

"I'll be there with my guys as soon as I can."


They didn't process the scene for the shooting, or do anything besides sit tight. He wants to maintain custody of everything right now. But, he also doesn't want ten thousand cops spooking McKenna and Heyn.

It took half an hour, but Hallahan gets to the scene. He's got a few plain clothes people with him, and they get into position to follow McKenna and Heyn.

An hour later, when it was getting onto five, the club was ready to close. Bishop radioed in. "Crowd's thinning out, they're going to notice me if I stick around much longer."

"Okay, get out of there. Hallahan's guys are watching for McKenna and Heyn."

So, Bishop heads out, wrapped in her coat, and eventually makes her way back to the parking garage.

She sees their van, and the blood, bullet holes, bullets, and and broken glass all over the parking garage and is very glad it's three stories up and not in anyone's direct line of sight from the ground.

From up there, she has a very good view of six DEA agents swarming on McKenna and Heyn as soon as they get out of the club.

And as soon as they moved, Tony has his phone to his ear. "Ducky, hi. Yeah, I know it's early. We need you here." Then he makes the next call to Vance. He updates Vance on everything that happened, reports the shooting, and requests the correct IA auditors to come and make sure it was a clean shoot.

"Does IA always come in?" Bishop asks.

He nods. "Any time one of us kills someone, there's an investigation. Just saves a lot of time and trouble."

He looks at Bishop, shivering in her coat. Temp's dropped during the night, can't be much above fifteen degrees right now.

"Go home. Get some rest. They'll be debriefing us until at least lunch time today. Bright and early tomorrow morning, these guys go to interrogation and you get to see what happens."


She turns toward the car that she and Draga had been using.

"Bishop," her name from Tony stops her dead. "Before you go. Coffee, donuts, more coffee, something with some protein in it for the three of us. We need food and we need to be awake to talk to IA."

"No problem!"

And eventually she was back.

And eventually IA questioned them, and processed the scene while Ducky and Jimmy took care of the body.

And eventually, not long after what should have been lunch Tony, Ziva, and Draga got to go home.

Right now, the official verdict hasn't been reached, but it was a clean shot, he knows that, and he knows IA's going to find that way.

Eventually they got Blezun, Fedoryvich, and "Smith" into custody and processed.

And eventually, they went home, and he and Ziva fell into bed, wrapped in each other's arms, and slept like the dead until the alarm went off at 6:05, the way it usually does.

Eventually there was questioning, but it didn't amount to much. Tony knows how to read the prison tats. These guys have already been through everything the Russians had to offer (including Siberia) and didn't talk. He's got nothing to scare them with.

So they sit there, silent, not even asking for a lawyer, refusing to say anything.

And once he's got them arraigned on everything they've got on them, he hands custody over to the FBI.

And that was the first full case for Team DiNozzo, and all in all, he'd say it was a job well done.


A/N: And yes, we will back track to see what Gibbs has been up to and get the story of what happened with Abby and McGee. Just wanted to get a good Tony-centric case fic out there.