Thursday, September 4, 2014

Shards To A Whole: Unfinished Business

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

Chapter 377: Unfinished Business

Ziva did not go to research bone marrow donation. She will, eventually. But not yet, not now.

No, right now, she is driving back to the Navy Yard.

Right now, she knows that Jimmy is without a client. Tony asked Tim to check up on Jeanne and this child, so she heads for Autopsy and not the basement.

And right now, she wants to hit something, hard, a whole lot.

"Hey, Ziva," Jimmy says as she heads in, sounding and looking chipper. He's got a huge book in front of him, and from the looks of it is in the middle of studying something. Probably those continuing education credits he was talking about.

"Do you have a few minutes?"

Jimmy stares at her. Dr. Allan doesn't twig to it, but he does. Ziva is often cool, but right now, she's cold. Something's gone wrong.

"Sure. What's up?"

"It's private."

Jimmy nods. "Dr. Allan, can you get those reports filed and then all of the glassware sterilized?"

"No problem, Dr. Palmer."

"Thank you." And with that Jimmy steps out with Ziva, following her to the elevator. As soon as the doors shut, she hits the off switch and tells him what's happened.

"Oh." Jimmy starts to offer her a hug but she steps back. "Not hugs then. What can I do? Anything and everything you ever wanted to know about bone marrow donation?"

"Yes, eventually. Right now I need to fight. She should have told him."

Jimmy nods. "Grab your go bag, I'll get some scrubs, and we'll meet in the gym in five?"


"You want me to grab Tim?"

She shakes her head. "He and Tony have talked, and he's supposed to be looking up Jeanne. I do not want to take him away from that."


Scrubs aren't great fighting gear, but it's what he's got, and it's a hell of a lot better than going in and trying to fight in a suit.

Ziva has her gym clothes handy, so she's looking about normal, and Jimmy had about nine seconds to notice that before she started hitting, and he started dodging.

It's entirely likely that people wondered what the hell was up when the Medical Examiner and Senior Agent DiNozzo were in the middle of a drop down, drag out, no-holds-barred fight on a Tuesday afternoon, but no one asked them.

They did, apparently, go in search of Tim, because less than twenty minutes after they started, he was leaning against the ropes, waiting for them to notice him.

Eventually, Jimmy's focus widened enough to see him there, and for him to call time.

Ziva's breathing hard, fire in her eyes, posture tense and ready to leap. Jimmy's looking grateful for the down time.

Tim looks at her. "He talked to you, huh?"

She nods.

"Want me to get in there, too?"

"I want you finding out what's going on."

"Computer's doing that right now. It doesn't need me hovering next to it. I can take a few rounds, let him catch his breath."

Jimmy's looking thankful for that. He hasn't tried one on one with a pissed off Ziva in months, and had forgotten how fast she is. The only good thing is that she's still in enough control to pull her punches and aim a bit wide, otherwise he'd be a walking bruise right now.

Ziva shakes her head. She's feeling calmer, has fought off all the first, major spike of fight or flight chemicals. "I've always known this could happen. When you marry a man who can only give you a stadium figure for how many women he's slept with, you know that there's a good shot that sooner or later a child will show up, but…"

"You didn't expect it to be Jeanne?" Jimmy asks.

"No." She bites her lip. "And I did not expect it to feel like this." Then she swallows, pushing that down and away, and turns to Tim. "Have you found anything?"

"Locked Facebook page I've got my computer hacking, a few newspaper articles about the vaccination outreach program she was doing in Ghanna back in '09. Tony was wondering if she was married, but I haven't seen any mention of a husband or her son, and her name is still Benoit. I've got the request in for her records, they should be up in the next hour or so."

"Thanks, McGee."

"Where's Tony?"

"Left him with Gibbs."

Tim does a little math in his head, how long they've been fighting, how long it takes to get to where Gibbs is and back, and… "How? I mean, I know you drive like crazy but, it's been less than two hours since I talked to Tony."

That's when Ziva remembers that Gibbs isn't at Gibbs' house and she winces. "I dropped him at Gibbs'."

"Oh." Jimmy says.

"Yes. I need to…"

They both nod at her.

"You will call when you know something?"

"Sure," Tim says.

"By the time you get there, I'll have links to everything you've ever wanted to know about bone marrow donations in your inbox."

"Thanks, Palmer."

When it rains, it pours.

All day Gibbs has been worrying about Tim. He's trying not to. Everything Tim said about that test makes sense. He will be with the Secretary of the Navy. Nothing is going to happen to him.

More than that, he needs to do it. He needs that shot to prove to his Dad… that he can beat him. That he's as good if not better than John ever was. That he made the right choices for himself, and then force his dad to see it.

So, he gets it.

And he talked with Duck about it. (Penny didn't come to the house today, she's prepping for her next classes, which begin the week after next. Some sort of high level grad-seminar where she gets together with each student before they begin the work.) Ducky gets it, too. He was talking about how this is a metaphorical slaying of the monster under the bed, and that it should be deeply cathartic and all this other psych stuff that Gibbs took to mean that it'd be a really good thing for Tim.

But his gut won't stop yelling. The last time it was yelling this loud, he was begging Shannon not to testify. With just as much luck as he's having with Tim. (He's also sure that Tim will not, in any way, shape or form, appreciate him heading over to Jarvis' house and saying he's coming along on this trip.)

To that, Ducky pointed out that he's already had one experience where he had to trust the safety of someone he held dear to someone else, and it failed miserably, so of course, he's on high alert. He felt that way about Abby before Kelly was born, and it turned out just fine. And that's true, but not particularly comforting. When Tim's back, in one physical and emotional piece, then he'll be able to settle.

So, he's already on edge when he gets home and finds Tony sitting on his sofa, alone, clutching a drink, and crying.

That hits him like a Mac Truck, ice down his spine, knees going week, because the only reason he can think of for Tony to be, alone, at his house, crying, is that Ziva took a bullet. So he sits next to Tony, who jerks when he wraps an arm around him, seeming to notice him for the first time, not even trying to not cry.

Tony sees that, and tries to smile, tries to say, something, but his voice cracks before he can get anything out. Finally he gets himself together enough to say, "It's not Ziva. She's okay.

Gibbs is staring at him, lost. There's a rush of relief, but obviously something is really, really wrong. "What?"

So Tony tells him, and Gibbs listens.

"Fuck." He says as Tony gets going. Not terribly elegant, but it's heartfelt.

Gibbs hates that mission. Hates the fact that it was stupid. He gets a revenge mission. Gets that in his bones, and he's run them, so he knows how to do them, right, but that one… It wasn't stupid because it was about revenge. It was stupid because he's got no idea how it was supposed to work. Some sort of 'magic' or something. Because when it came down to it, as a way to get The Frog, it made absolutely no sense at all and there was way too much collateral damage.

And then, he thought about it, and it did make sense. Maybe. He hopes not. It's possible torturing Jeanne was always the entire objective of that mission. That would have been revenge for Jen: a 'Hurt my daddy, well look at what I can do to your daughter. Suck it, Frog, you can't protect her' scheme.

He can see the look on Tony's face, utterly haunted, wrecked at the idea of this child, and he hopes that wasn't what Jen was trying to do. Hopes she wasn't that cold.

He hates that she picked Tony for it. Once Gibbs found out what the mission was, if you could say that mission was anything, it was clear that Tony wasn't cold enough for it. Ziva might have been able to pull it off, back then. He could have, back when he and Jen worked together the first time. But not Tony. Part of why he was the king of one-night-stand was that if he got to know a woman, he'd start to feel for her, and feeling was the surest root to heartache for that sort of mission. For everyone involved.

But, of course, once again, if torturing Jeanne really was the point of that mission, Tony was the perfect guy for the job, because he would feel for her, sooner or later, and she'd feel it, too. Jeanne's emotions would feed on his. That would draw her in deeper, hurt her that much worse when it was time for the reveal.

He hates the fact that Jen was cold enough that he doesn't know for a fact if she planned her mission perfectly, got her target and inflicted maximum pain, or if she was reckless enough to plan a mission that half-assed.

Either way, that mission bit everyone it touched. And now, almost a decade later, it's still biting them in the ass.

When Tony's about three quarters of the way through the story, they hear a car pull up, door open, door shut, and light footfalls on the front step. Mona hops up, barking happily, (she loves Ziva) as Ziva head in.

"Hey," Tony says to her.

"You're home," she says to Gibbs.

"Got in ten minutes ago."

She looks to Tony. "I just realized you were here alone."

"It's okay. I needed some thinking time."

Ziva heads over to the sofa, sitting on Tony's other side, getting a kiss from Gibbs as she gets settled.

"What are you going to do?" Gibbs asks.

"McGee is checking to see if she's married. See if this child already has a dad," Ziva replies.

Gibbs stares at Tony and then shakes his head. "Cop out."

Tony stares back at him. "I wrecked her life and hurt her once. Barging back in again if she wants me nowhere near her or her kid…"

"Didn't say barge on in. I said seeing if he's got some other man in his life is a cop out. He's your kid. Your job is to be there. You didn't know about him before, fine, not your fault. You do now, so you do something about it. Doesn't matter if there's another man there."

"Okay. But, what? What's good for him? What's best for him? Yeah, I want to know him, for me. But… is that being selfish? Is that good for him? For Jeanne? Her son is hurting; it's got to be killing her, me running back in won't make anything easier. And if there is another guy, and if he thinks that other guy is his father, I don't think me running in now and saying, 'Guess what?' is going to help. Hell, he's eight, I don't know if he even knows how the dad thing works, yet. So, I don't know what to do." Tony stares at the fireplace. Ziva's gently rubbing his neck.

And Gibbs, who can usually be relied on to have some sort of plan, for once, has no clue what to do, either.

"Is Agent DiNozzo all right, Dr. Palmer?" Dr. Allan asks when Jimmy gets back.

"She will be. I think." He stares at Allan for a moment, sure this is probably over the line, but… the whole thing will be all over the office soon, you can't suddenly end up with a kid and not have NCIS notice.

"Dr. Allan, condoms are your friend, use them, with spermicide. Protect your future wife from becoming an over-night surprise step-mom. Protect yourself from becoming an instant parent, having to deal with a co-parent who wants nothing to do with you. Protect your future children from the heartache of a family where mom hates dad."

Allan's eyes are very wide. He opens and closes his mouth a few times, not sure what to say to that. He settles on shutting his mouth and not saying anything. Jimmy nods. "Is the glassware sterilized?"

Allan swallows hard and then says, "Should be out of the autoclave in three minutes."

"Wonderful." It's fifteen minutes to traditional quitting time. "Feel free to take off a bit early. I don't think we'll have any guests today."

Allan nods. "Thank you, Doctor." He goes to gather his things, and then, as he's at the door, he stops, and turns to Jimmy. "Uh… Thanks for the advice, too, but… It's medically impossible for any of my partners to get pregnant."

Jimmy blinks at that, about to ask why? when why hits him and he feels like an utter moron. "Oh. I'm sorry, I didn't…"

Allan shrugs. "I didn't say. I'm out. If I was dating, I'd have told you I have a boyfriend, but I don't have one right now, so…"

"Ah." Something else hits Jimmy, and his eyes go wide at it. "Your friend… the one who inspired the career change…?"

"Was he more than a friend?" Allan asks.

"Yeah." Jimmy nods, feeling like the pieces of Dr. Allan are falling into place. As Ducky said, justice served is a powerful motivator, justice served for someone you love deeply… even more so.

"He was. William Dawset. The ME was able to prove murder, and who did it. No CSIs or Forensics Lab like Abby's got out there, the ME covered the whole thing. But he couldn't prove it was a hate crime on top of that. All the evidence for that was 'circumstantial.' You'd think sixteen stab wounds would have made an awfully compelling case for hate, but apparently the standard for anti-gay hate crimes in rural Georgia is beyond any possible doubt at all."

"I'm sorry." And Jimmy really, truly is.

Allan nods, feeling Jimmy's sympathy. "Thank you." He nods again. "Tomorrow, then."

"Tomorrow, Dr. Allan."

Jimmy closes up shop at five, and heads down to the basement.

Tim's still on his computer, reading intently from the looks of it.

"Hey," Jimmy says, stepping in. "You close to done?"

"Yeah, just about. Abby's wrapping up some testing, so I'm waiting for her."

"You tell her, yet?" he asks, half-leaning/half-sitting on Tim's desk.

"No. She's been working full-out today. You know that drug bust Kimmle caught?"

Jimmy shakes his head. "No dead body."

"Okay. Lots and lots of samples. They're running something like three hundred samples to trace where the drugs came from."

"Busy work."

"Yeah. Has to get done, but not a matter of life or death. So, she's wrapping up and handing it over to whichever lab rat's on today."

"You find anything, yet?"

"Actually, yeah. Got Jeanne's vital statistics back about ten minutes ago. It's…" Tim hands over the print out he's made.

Jimmy's eyes flick over it, and he sighs, feeling kicked in the gut. "That's why she didn't come."

"Yeah." Tim sighs, rubbing his eyes. "I'm trying to track down the boy. I've got a name, now, so that makes things easier, but so far, I can't find him."

"How hard can it be to find Aiden Benoit? You know he was born in December of '07."

"Yeah, well, name and birthdate isn't all that handy for a child who wasn't born in the US, and 'Africa' doesn't exactly narrow down the search. I'm coming up with nothing on the vital records for him. I'm even looking under Tony's name, thinking she might have filled him in as the father on the birth certificate, but… nothing, at all."

Jimmy stares at the obituary Tim printed out. It's the standard fare, picture of Jeanne, day of death (a week ago), no cause, a bit about who she was, what she did, when the funeral was (day before yesterday), the only line that's really standing out is the: Jeanne Benoit is survived by her mother, Dr. Helen Berkley and her son, Aiden Benoit.

Jimmy looks around Tim's office. "You've got a laptop in here somewhere, right?"

"In my bag. Why?"

"You find a cause of death. I'll find Aiden."


"He's on the bone marrow registry. I'm a doctor. I'll find him. Let's see if we can get something useful for Tony."

It doesn't take long for Jimmy to smell a rat. Not long at all. He tries every spelling of Aiden Benoit he can think of, and nothing pops up. He widens the search to all of Virginia, nothing. He adds in Maryland and Delaware, still nothing. He double checks Helen Berkely in the Federal Medical Database, she's got admitting privileges at Washington General and Children's so she's got to live around here somewhere.

He checks Jeanne, she had admitting privileges at Washington General and Sibley. So she has to have lived somewhere in this area.


"Hmmm…" he scanning a police report.

"He's not in the bone marrow database."

Tim looks up.

"I'm breaking into his medical records. He's got to be somewhere here in DC, but he's not on the database."
Tim's eyes narrow. Jeanne's dead. Her mom's visiting Tony with a request for a bone marrow donation the day after her funeral. "This stinks."

"Yeah… it…" Jimmy's keying in his ID, requesting information, a few seconds later a selection of Aiden Benoits pop up, he clicks on two of them, finds the one with Jeanne Benoit listed as the mother, and he's found why Tim couldn't find him. "Aiden Benoit was born September 14, 2010."

And with that everything makes sense to Jimmy. Helen's angry, furious, grieving, and Tony's nearby and convenient, someone she can kick with impunity, and a way to feel like she's got come control back. "You find a cause of death yet?"

"Traffic report. Car accident, no witnesses. Car found in a ditch, upside down, she'd been dead for four hours. Blood alcohol level was .06."

"Not quite drunk."

"Just under the limit. It doesn't say how long they think she survived. It's possible she was over when the car flipped but under by the time she died."

Jimmy nods at that. "She ever marry?"

"Not that I can see."

"So, she's dead, maybe she's been spiraling out of control. Kid with no dad, driving drunk-ish… Maybe her mom blames Tony for that path. Maybe she's angry and just wants someone to kick, someone she thinks deserves it…" Jimmy, who until this point had been feeling mostly sympathy for Tony and Ziva, starts to shift. Starts feeling for Helen, the wall between him and the rage at a dead child isn't particularly thick. From there his brain heads to why Helen would hate Tony, what he did to her child. He starts to remember how he felt that night when he learned what Lee had been doing to him. Remembering that cold fear of being interrogated as a traitor, not knowing what was wrong or why, and then finding out what had happened, how he'd been used.

Tim's reaching for his phone, getting ready to call Tony, when Jimmy grabs his hand. Tim looks up at him. "Jimmy?"

"Don't call yet."

Tim's staring at him curiously. "Why?"

Jimmy's looking at Tim's desk, staring at the obit. "You ever meet her?"

"Not really. Think I saw her for a few seconds while she was framing Tony for murdering her father."

"That one never got solved, did it?"

"Kort said it was one of his. Don't think Gibbs bought that."

"But it wasn't Tony, right?"

"No. Thumb tap. Tony's big enough he wouldn't have needed to use that sort of hold on a person. You do that when you're a small person using pain to control a bigger person."

"Okay." Jimmy sighs, touching the picture of Jeanne's face. "That was a shit mission."

Tim nods; he agrees, sees the look on Jimmy's face as he stares at the shot of Jeanne and understands why this hits Jimmy harder than the rest of them.

"How many hours do you think she spent crying, hurting because of it?"

"I don't know, Jimmy. Enough so that she decided to try to get revenge."

Jimmy looks up at Tim. "She deserved something, Tim. Not life in prison for Tony, no, but… something, more than she got. He broke her heart on purpose. He used her... He fucked her, and he used her. Give it a night, please. Hold off until the morning to tell him."

Tim feels sympathy for what Jimmy's thinking, for the revenge he never got, but… "I say nothing, and we're hurting Ziva, too."

Jimmy stares at the ceiling; that's true, too. "I know. Twelve hours won't kill either of them."


"Look, if it makes me a shit friend, I don't fucking care. He deserves it, or something like it. I'm sorry it screws Ziva, too, but…" He's staring at Tim. "I was on the other side of it, Tim. Someone used me, and for a hell of a lot better reason, and it still hurt. You doubt everyone around you for… years. And I'll never get my own back. That bridge is beyond burned. And Jeanne won't either, her bridge is burned, too, but…" Jimmy shakes his head. "Look, I'll talk to Helen, make sure she never pulls any crap like this on him again, but, give him a night to deal with it. Please."

Abby walks in on both of them, Tim looking torn, Jimmy angry and earnest. "Oh, God, what did I miss today?"

They tell her, and sit there, her best friend and her husband, both of them staring at her, waiting for her to be the arbiter. She looks from Jimmy to Tim and back again.

"It's not kind, Jimmy."

"I know, Abby. That's pretty much the point. What he did to her wasn't kind, and it wasn't necessary, and… We're the good guys, right? It our job to protect the Jeannes out there, right? So, what kind of 'good guys' are we if this is okay?"

"Okay, Jimmy. I'll be quiet. Tim?"

Tim doesn't really like this. But… He can see how deeply this hits Jimmy. "Okay. First thing tomorrow morning, I'll let him know."

"Fine. Call him at the crack of dawn if you like. Actually, no. First thing, before work, before they usually leave, I'll be at their place and I'll explain. This is… my life and his intersecting in a crap way, so it's on me. I've got it."

"And you'll talk to Helen?" Tim asks. "I mean, if she's willing to pull this… She might be willing to go further."

"She won't, not after I talk to her."

"Okay." It's almost six when Tim says that. "Time for us to be getting home. Heather's going to start wondering where we are."

"Yeah." Jimmy says, agreeing. They're all standing up, getting ready to head out, when Jimmy says, "You didn't know about that op, did you?"

"Not until it was over," Tim replies.

"And you didn't approve, either, did you?"

Tim shakes his head. "I'm the only one on the team who's never slept with a suspect to get information out of them."

"She wasn't a suspect," Jimmy says.

"That's why Gibbs and Ziva didn't like that op, either," Tim replies.

Jimmy gets home, spends some time snugging his girls, hoping, as close to praying as he ever gets, that they never run into someone like Tony, explaining to Breena what happened today.

He'd told her, in a round-about sort of way, about Lee. That he'd had what he considered a serious relationship before her that went very, very bad.

And after the Fourth of July party, when he got thinking about Jeanne, and was feeling down, he told her the whole story of Michelle Lee, how she used him to get the information out, how for a while he'd thought she really liked him, but she got colder and colder and eventually he'd ended it, but, that was too little, too late, and for a while he ended up being a suspect in a treason case because of what she had been doing.

So, she knew that story. And she knows, as well as he does, the story of Jeanne, because he had to explain why that one set off his own feelings about being, basically, Jeanne.

And most of the time, he does a good job of not thinking about it. Most of the time, it's firmly in the past. But right now, it's not.

It's not that he wants Tony to suffer, not for too long. But he does want him to have a taste of that… fear, doubt, pain… anguish, that's probably the best word for it. He spent a night between finding out that Lee had been using him and learning that she had a damn good reason for it. And that night sucked.

Between the recriminations of how did he not see it, to whether it was all lies, did she even like him, ever, or was he just the easiest, stupidest, horniest target around, that night ached. People died because he was being led around by his dick. He opened himself up to that woman, relished her time and body and smiles, let her touch all of him, risked his job for her, cherished the quiet moments when they were both calming down and he could smell her hair against his lips. That's why they broke up, he wanted more of those quiet moments, and, apparently she didn't want any of them. Apparently, she didn't want the loud minutes, either, but… that was beside the point. You do what you need to do for your family, so she did.

And even when he knew why, which helped in that he at least developed some sympathy for why she would do it, he still had to wonder, why him?

They eat dinner, and put the girls to bed, and he's a million miles away through all of it. Michelle was an NCIS employee, killed by an NCIS employee, in the line of duty. The last time he saw her (though he wasn't supposed to, Ducky was supposed to handle that one solo) she was on a slab, in their morgue, dead.

And he felt stupid about it, but he cried for her, even knowing what she did to him, because he also knew why.

After dinner, he calls Washington General, and finds out that Helen's got a shift starting at eight.

Hopefully this can be in out and done. Because, while it's true that he wants Tony to hurt, some, for a night, he also doesn't want Helen deciding that now would be a spiffy time to try something even more intense. He wants her to know she's on their radar, and that this is her one free pass.

From here on out, anything she pulls will have consequences, and if she values her grandson, she will not risk them.

He pulls on his scrubs. Thinks about a lab coat to go with them, but all of his say NCIS on them. Scrubs and a clip board will do the job. Just one more doctor in a sea of doctors.

He kisses Breena and heads off.

"Dr. Helen Berkley?" She's talking to a nurse, wrapping up instructions for a patient when he says that.

"Yes…" She says, turning, not recognizing him.

"Dr. Palmer." He offers her his hand. "I'm with the bone marrow registry. I'd like to speak to you about your grandson, in private."

He sees the color drain from her face, and then she squares her shoulder, nods, and leads him off to a quiet corridor.

"I take it he sent you?"

"If by he, you mean Tony, no he didn't. He has no idea I'm here, nor will he. I sympathize with both your loss and what you're doing about it. So, I will not be informing Tony that your grandson is not only two years too young to be his, but not on the bone marrow recipient list." He doesn't mind lying to her, if she thinks her revenge works, there's no reason for her to ever try anything else.

"Why on earth not?"

He shakes his head. "As I said, I sympathize. Now: a warning. You are on our radar. If anything happens to Tony, if he sneezes, trips, and scrapes a knee, we're going to be checking you out about it. Assuming you like having custody of your grandson, you will do everything in your power to make sure we do not come to your house to investigate something bad happening to DiNozzo. Do you understand me?"

"No. I do not."

"Then I'll try this even more clear. You already know how badly my organization will fuck over an innocent bystander. You daughter already was that bystander. Do everything you can to make sure your grandson isn't one, too. Okay?"

She nods, eyes hot.

"Did you keep his bloodwork?"

She nods.

"Add it to the registry. Maybe we can get some good out of this mess after all."

Now her eyes are wide, and not hot, just puzzled. "You work for NCIS?"


"You're supposed to be arresting me, aren't you?"

"I wasn't aware that practical jokes are illegal. You do something illegal, we'll have a very different conversation. You think about doing something illegal, and I find out about it, we'll have that conversation. Goodbye, Dr. Berkley. I am sorry for your loss."

She rolls her eyes at that, and he leaves, hoping he's taken care of the issue.

Well, one of them, at least.

Tomorrow's soon enough to take care of the other ones.

He's pulling out of the hospital parking lot when he decides he wants to know more about that case. About how it was supposed to work.

Tim doesn't look very surprised when Jimmy just walks in twenty minutes later. He pauses the show he's watching and gets off the sofa. "What do you need?"

"Can you find Jeanne's case? I want to read the files on it."

"Come on." They head into his office. Tim pulls his writing chair over to his computer, and they both get settled. "Being a Director of NCIS should have some advantages, right?" he says as he starts digging into the case log.

Nothing comes up for Rene Benoit. He tries 'The Frog.' Nothing. 'La Grenouille.' Nothing.

Tim shakes his head. "They don't want anyone poking into this. It's probably all on paper, all is dotted and ts crossed and filed with the janitorial reports from 1956. Ummm… Okay…" He starts querying Shepard's records. "Yeah, they don't want anyone checking out Jen too closely. These are all locked down."

"You can get around that, right?"

Tim looks at Jimmy. "I'm the guy who designed the lock they're using to keep it hidden. Yeah, I can find a way around it." And he does.

They spend the next hour reading up on Jen, and having done so, it became very apparent why those records are locked. How she went from Probie, in '95 to Director in nine years was in there. And it wasn't pretty.

"God, she was ruthless," Jimmy says.

Tim nods. He didn't work with Jen much, and his most vivid memory of her was handing her his badge because he wasn't going to work for someone who valued looking good over doing good.

"Can't believe Morrow would put 'great ass' in a fitness eval. God, that'd get him fired so fast these days," Tim says.

What's not in any of those files is a mention of La Grenouille.

Tim looks up at Jimmy. "Whole thing was off the books from the looks of it."

"Okay. Tell me what you knew about it."

"Come on." Tim stands up. "You want a drink or something?"

"Got some tea?"

"Hot or iced?"


"Yeah, I can do that. Abby can kick in some of the story, too." Tim puts some water on, enough for Jimmy and him, and he's thinking Abby might want some, too. Yesterday and today she's been going through green tea like crazy. Jimmy's in their cupboard, rummaging through their tea stash. "Grab a green tea bag for Abby."

Jimmy nods, and a second later a tea bag is flying toward Tim's head. He catches it and puts it in a mug.

"What do you want?" Jimmy asks.

"Don't care. No caffeine."

Jimmy grabs two French vanilla chai blends, one for each of them, and Tim gets things set. "First thing I really knew was up was that Ziva was on his case. He kept vanishing, and didn't have good excuses, and it was bugging her."

"Didn't bug you?" Tim hands Jimmy his mug, and both of them go sit down.

"Not the way it bugged her." Tim puts down his mug. "Okay, I've never asked, and I do not actually know, but when Gibbs left, I think something happened with them. Tony's in charge; we've got these movie night things happening, but Lee and I were only invited to some of them, and every single one all four of us showed for, we left before Ziva did. Then Gibbs is back, and they're sniping at each other, and she's all pissed at him for ducking out and lying about it."

"You were working with Lee then?"

"Yeah, technically I was the Senior Agent and she was my Probie, for, I don't know, about two minutes."

"Did she ever… try anything with you?" Jimmy asks, looking vulnerable. Did she try another target first and fail, or did she aim straight for him?

Tim shakes his head. "Nah. Or if she did it was so subtle I didn't notice it. When did you two…"

"She started in what, May? June?"

Tim nods, it was something like that. "Think so."

"Before the summer was over, don't remember more specifically than that."

"Anyway, fast-forward to May, and Tony keeps getting pulled aside, and having 'meetings' with the Director, then next thing we know his car's been blown up, he's got this whole other job he's been working, and this girlfriend we've never met, and…"

Abby sits next to them, giving Jimmy's shoulder a squeeze as she does. "Getting up to date on the Frog?"

"That's the idea. What did you know about it?"

"Tony didn't kill him. That none of us thought he could even keep a secret until that job. That he loved her, or thought he did, but not enough to leave NCIS. That she loved him, but not enough to forgive him."
Jimmy snorts at that. He looks at Tim, Abby sitting on his lap, her arm draped over his shoulders as she sips her tea, and the easy way that his hand curls around her hip.

"Don't call that love." He points to the two of them. "That's love." He circles his finger to mean the three of them. "This is love. That was… lies and lust and… I mean, the whole time, he knew he was going in there to make her fall for him. That was the plan right? Seduce her, and then… Somehow get the goods on her dad?"

Abby nods, and Tim sighs. "Yeah, Jimmy, that's about it."

He stares at his mug. "First time I met Michelle, she had headed down to ask about something for Tony. Ducky wasn't in the office. It was just me, and for once, I knew the answer. He wanted to know if a wrench could have made that sort of fracture." Tim nods, he remembers that case. "And I got the x-ray out, double checked, outlined the fracture, said that it looked right for that, but if she wanted to wait, we could run it by Doctor Mallard, too. She looked up at me, smiled, then looked me up and down and asked if I'd like to get some coffee with her.

"I knew she wasn't in love with me. And I wasn't in love with her. But, it was nice, you know? She liked me, laughed at my jokes, made me feel special, and good. Made me feel desirable, ya know?"

Tim and Abby nod. Tim who also got asked out once a blue moon, and once by someone who was using him, and once by Tony pretending to be his ultimate woman, gets this intensely.

"And eventually there weren't any more jokes, and we stopped getting coffee or dinner, and I decided I wanted more from a woman than mechanical sex in the loading docks. So I broke up with her. But, I'd hoped, that when I said I wanted more, that she's have been okay with it. But she wasn't. So that was that.

"And then we knew what she was doing, but before I ever got to find out what had happened, if any of it ever meant anything, if she had ever liked me at all, she was dead. I never got to know if she seduced me from the get go, or if she looked me up and down and smiled because she liked what she saw."

Abby shifts off of Tim's lap, and he lets her go, easily. She hugs Jimmy from behind.

"She should have loved you."

He shrugs. "Not in the cards." She's gently rubbing his back, standing next to him while he sits. He leans his head against her side. "And I'm way better off with her not having loved me. But… I wish she had told me, or told you guys, or… I wish we could have gotten it fixed without anyone dying. If I had noticed what was going on… Been less stupid, less horny, at least four more people would be alive. God knows how much crap she got out of NCIS and what he did with it. Under my nose."

Abby kisses the top of his head.

He squeezes her hand gently. "Normally I don't think about it. It's not like it's always there, or even often there. It's been almost ten years. I don't dwell on it. But right now… I've forgiven her. Someone held a gun to her daughter's head and said 'Jump,' and if you do that to me, I'll say 'How high?' too. So, I get it. I don't like it, and it still hurts if I think about it, but I get it.

"But I don't get what he did. I don't get how he did it. I don't get it on a moral level, on a how on Earth you can possibly think this is okay level. I don't get it on a physical level. Jeanne was beautiful, but, I don't think I could get a hard-on if I knew I was lying to her like that. If I knew doing it would hurt her like that. I don't get how you do that and live with yourself.

"I don't get why it was necessary. There had to be another way to get this guy." Jimmy looks at Tim. "You said Kort claimed his people killed Benoit?"


"So, that means the CIA was working the case, too?"

"Probably," Tim replies.

Abby thinks about it. "They'd have proper jurisdiction for it. He was almost never in the US, that's why you guys only got that one shot at him, right?"

"Think so. And technically, we were in Canada, and not really there, because he tried to stay out of the US."

Jimmy shakes his head again. "I don't get it." He looks up at Abby. "I was hoping he could get me the files, so I could get it…"

"But it was all off the books," Tim finishes.

Abby nods and hugs Jimmy again. "Only one way to get it, Jimmy, and that's talking to him."

"I will, but… unless Jeanne was actually part of the gun running ring, I don't there's anything he can come up with that I'll want to hear."


A/N: So, um, yeah, if you've ever wondered why I didn't much like Shepard and don't ship her with Gibbs, that cluster fuck of a mission of doom is why.

No comments:

Post a Comment