Deranged, Demented, and Defended.
Don woke up and smiled because he felt better. Especially since he could hear Hubert grumbling in the living room. "Is he back?" he called.
"No, that's Adam. They wanted to keep him out of here for another week," Danny said, coming to the doorway. "They said even if it's not in the house and we're fine they don't want him exposed in case there's some in the air or on a table."
"Can someone dragon-sit?" Xander asked, still sleepy and fully under the covers.
"I've called around. The ones down here are in the middle of one of your poker buddies going rogue. I'll try Greg next." He went to call him. "Hey, Greg, Danny." He smiled at the happy babble he was getting. "They're both fine but they won't let Hubert come home for a week because they don't want any chance with the immune system they can't be sure of." He listened to the offer. "You think you can? We'll send up food." He grinned. "Thanks, man." He hung up and turned to find Vesvold standing there looking amused. "What?"
"Which ones? The sick twins? They are."
"Greg and Tony."
"They are too." He grinned. "Greg makes Tony play. Tony makes Greg settle down now and then. It works for 'em. What's up?"
"I was going to offer to take Hubert up there via the demon who still wants them. As a matter of fact, we've already got him at my house. My mother is getting attached."
"They didn't say that."
"I was just there, Danny."
"Oh, okay." He looked in the freezer, packing bags of meat that Xander had prepared. "He gets one a day. He usually eats off a plate." He packed a second bag. Plus a huge ham bone. "There, that should do him." He zipped up the padded warmer/colder carrier bags and handed them over. "You sure?"
"Not a problem. It's keeping my mother from fussing over him." He disappeared with the bags, going to grab the baby dragon and take him to Gibbs since he was in the office. He appeared, handing him the bags, then removing the dragon from his robe. "The vet didn't want him at home until a week after they were sure both fathers were better. Gregory and Tony agreed to dragon sit."
"Uh-huh. Too bad they're at home."
"The demon who still wants them would be hellishly upset with me if I popped into their house. Going to the head of the harem is always appropriate. Danny said he eats one pack a day on a regular plate. He included a ham bone so he had something to gnaw on if he wanted. My mother thinks he's adorable." Gibbs simply smirked at that. "Thank you." He disappeared.
Gibbs looked at the dragon. "Can you wait until they get here?" It nodded and laid down. "I forgot you're intelligent." He called them. "DiNozzo, why am I dragon sitting when you are?" He hung up and checked the bags. Completely frozen. It'd be fine for a few minutes. He pulled out one to look at. Then at the dragon. "You like teriyaki chicken?" The dragon nodded, nosing a bag. He got him the ham bone, letting him have it. The dragon went to lay in the sun with it, curling up next to the windows.
Kate walked and sat down, noticing the bags. "Lunch?" Gibbs pointed so she looked. "What is that?"
"Xander's pet Hubert."
"Hubert is the name of the species?"
"No, that's his name. Xander said he's a baby dragon. The veterinarian didn't want him to go home until a least a week after the mumps were gone from the house. DiNozzo's dragon sitting. The bags are his food."
"What does he eat?"
"Teriyaki chicken. Some beef." He shrugged. "He's a carnivore. He's also intelligent. Hubert, come say good morning to Kate," he called. He came over to sniff her then grumbled something and went back to his window. Kate was staring at him, giving him a horrified look. He smirked. "Beats an online elf any day," he said dryly.
She called Abby, swatting the keys until they worked the way she wanted. "Dragon!" She hung up on the giggling.
Abby came bouncing up. "Awwww, who's the widdle baby dragon Hubert?" she cooed, coming over to pet him. "Can I give you chin scratches?" He lifted it and she scratched him. "Such a good dragon. Is Uncle Tony dragon sitting while your daddy is sick?" she asked. The dragon nodded. "You poor thing. I bet you miss curling up with the ferrets and Daddy Xander's hair." She sat down beside him to pet him. She even smiled at Kate. "He's a very good ferret guardian too. He pulls Xander's out to play with them all the time." The dragon smirked at Kate and went back to sucking up his rightful attention and affection.
"Don't spoil him," Gibbs ordered.
"I'm not! Meany!"
Tony came whistling off the elevator. "There's my pseudo-nephew. Hey, Hubert. Wanna come home?" He rested his chin on Abby's knee, giving him a begging look. "She can come over after work." Hubert picked up his bone and got to his feet, stretching out, waving his tail. Then he walked over, nosing the bags. "I know, Daddy said he was sending you up with food." He picked them up. "Thanks, boss." He walked Hubert out. "Want carried? The parking garage is cold." The dragon shook his head, standing beside him in the elevator.
"I'll come see you later, Hubert," Abby called, waving as the doors closed. "He's so *sweet*!" She beamed. "If Xander finds another egg do you think he'd let me have him?"
"You'd have to ask him," Gibbs said, giving her a look. "Thank you for giving Kate better views of pet ownership." She nodded and hugged him before bouncing off again. "You better now, Kate?"
She let out a wordless shriek. "That was a dragon?"
"A baby one." He grinned at her. "Xander found it on one of his trips, consensual trips, to find neat things as he told me. Found him in the egg. Wolfe was with him. It was right before the Vegas convention. While he was off learning that dance stuff." She got up and stomped off. He chuckled. For a Saturday on-call, this wasn't turning out so bad. Even if he did need to finish the paperwork from the last case and so did she. "I still need your report, Agent Todd."
"In a minute," she snapped, calling McGee from the break room. "Tony's dragon sitting." She nodded. "Yeah, and Abby loves him too. Exactly! They're going insane! Gibbs was even *smiling* about the dragon!" She growled at the person coming into the breakroom, sending him running for a different coffeepot. "Yes, I could! Thank you!" She hung up and stomped back there, getting back to her report. She finally printed it and tossed it at him then headed home to take something for her new headache. Because that wasn't right! Even GHS shouldn't own mythological creatures! Even baby ones!
Gibbs snickered once she was in the elevator. "Good for her," he decided. "The blood pressure spike will do her good. Put color in her cheeks again. Beats having her sulk over her ex." He sent an email to Greg, getting back a laughing smiley face. He deleted the message.
McGee knocked on Tony's door. "Dragon?"
"Hubert." The dragon came waddling over. "This is Tim McGee, I work with him. He role plays an elf online in a game."
Hubert sniffled him then waved his tail and walked off again.
McGee stared. "That's...."
"A baby dragon," Tony said with a grin. "Xander found his egg on one of his many roadtrips with Ryan Wolfe."
"That's just wrong."
"The vet didn't want him at home since they had the mumps sent to them. So we're sitting him for a week."
"He's very polite," Greg said, leaning over Tony's arm. "Hi, Tim. Want to come in?"
"I'll be warped if I do, right?"
"Have we yet?" Greg asked patiently.
"I'm not sure. You know you guys gave Kate a migraine?"
Tony grinned. "Beats watching her sulk over her new ex."
"Good point," he said, shaking his head quickly. "Abby?"
"Met Hubert the last time she was in Miami. They're cute together. She coos and pets him."
"Oh. Okay." He nodded, walking off again. He felt something tug on his pantslegs so he looked down. "Hi, Hubert." The dragon tugged again. "What?" He nodded his head. "Inside?" The dragon gave him a nod. "You're intelligent?"
"He's very intelligent, and he's an excellent ferret keeper too," Greg told him. Hubert beamed at him. "Come on in, Tim. Get warm with the dragon." They walked in together and he kissed Tony. "Thank you for letting me dragon sit."
"Not an issue. Hubert's a good pet." He went back to his movie, Greg curling up beside him. "You should see the new theater we installed for Xander. It's *great*. Looks like a real one. Has a THX sound system. Old style seats." He grinned. "Xander said his family was *very* happy and they watched a movie first thing." Greg grinned at that, snuggling in beside him. McGee and the dragon were staring at each other. "He's not going to eat you, Probie. He likes chicken and beef, not pudgy probie butt."
"Gee, thanks. What happens when he's larger?"
"I'm assuming here but Xander has that situation covered." He looked at him. "Who knows. By then the aliens Xander thinks are out there might've come down and Xander might have his own planet."
Hubert gave him a look, then shook his head and tail, crawling up Tim to sit in his lap, giving him an expectant look.
"Sure, I'll pet you," he said, petting him gently. The dragon sighed in pleasure. "You're as much of a hedonist as your human, aren't you?" The dragon beamed at him and settled in for a good lap nap. "Fine." He settled in too. It was calming and he was getting good ideas petting the dragon. "That cold case we got the DNA on last week. Did we check for boyfriends or her experimenting with men?"
"She was a lesbian but sometimes they do switch," Greg said. "I don't know. I wasn't here then." He looked at Tony, giving him a nudge.
"She was experimenting with a few boys to see if she was really a lesbian according to her girlfriend. Someone was pressuring her to so she tried it a few times. I think we ruled out the one the girlfriend knew about. If Abby could separate the DNA sample we might be able to. The FBI said they're backlogged."
"I'll do it tomorrow," Greg told him. McGee grinned at that. "What? It was my first love."
Tony gave him a squeeze. "I love your giant brain."
"Of course you do. It turns you on nearly as much as my cute ass on the dancefloor. Especially later."
Tony gave him an evil little smirk. "I could be talked into that." Greg cuddled him and they went back to the movie, letting McGee get all sorts of ideas from the warm little scaled body in his lap.
Tony closed his mustang's door, then looked in the area behind the seats. He opened it and pointed. The dragon climbed out and steamed happily at him before wandering off. "You were supposed to stay home, Hubert. Gibbs will not be pleased."
Hubert steamed again, letting him get them onto the elevator. He got off and sniffed, then nipped someone until they screamed and brought someone running. He huffed at the stuff on her desk.
"Cocaine. Interesting," Gibbs said. "Detain her. Search her desk." He looked down. "You were supposed to stay at home, Hubert." The dragon's tail swished and he walked off, finding a good spot in Kate's chair. "No, move. Now." The dragon stared at him so Gibbs lifted him up and put him down, pointing. "Leave Kate alone." He huffed and went to curl up on top of McGee's computer monitor. It was warm and he smelled nice.
"He snuck into the mustang, boss." He called Greg. "Guess who snuck out." He hung up. "He's getting coffee."
"That's why I let him get here ten minutes late. He bounces without it." He went to deal with the agent who had been sniffing coke from her mirror at her desk. Their Internal Affairs people were already there so he left it in their hands and went back to his desk. Ducky was staring at him. "He's Harris'."
"So I've heard. He's quite a charming specimen." He petted his head. "Yes, very cute, Hubert. Quite adorable of you. Should you be here?"
"No," Gibbs said. "DiNozzo didn't see him sneaking."
"Aren't you glad I don't have toddlers to not catch sneaking instead," Tony quipped.
"YES!" Kate yelled from up the hall. "If you have kids, I'm killing you and them before one of you brings Satan back to life."
Tony stood up to look at her. "No you wouldn't. A baby DiNozzo is adorable."
"Which is how they'd do it." She stomped over. She stared at the dragon. "Again?"
"He didn't catch him sneaking," Gibbs said. "Quit yelling."
"Yes, boss," they said together.
Tony sat down and logged into his official email. "Huh. We're going to have to take a floor-wide drug test, boss." He looked up. "We're hallucinating him."
"If so he's a very good one," Ducky said. "He's a bit warm."
"He blows steam," Tony told him. That got a nod and Ducky gave him one last pet before moving on. McGee came walking in and sat down. "Morning, Probie. Late?"
"A bit. Gate's backed up on traffic, boss. Took me thirty minutes to get from the street to the parking lot."
"One of the guards was having a rant about illegal pets." He looked at the dragon. "Snuck in?" It beamed and nodded, smoking a bit. "Did you cause the fit?" He shook his head. "You sure?"
"The guard would've mentioned seeing him. It was probably Padleva, down in HR. She's got a new monkey." Tony shook his head. Greg walked off the elevator and came to grab the dragon then walked him off. "Thanks."
"Welcome. Padleva's new monkey got free at the gate, Gibbs. They're nearly shutting us down."
"Then he can stay," Gibbs ordered. Greg got off the elevator and came back to log into his computer and time card. He looked at Hubert. "You will behave and stay out of the way. No bothering people unless they're doing bad things." The dragon steamed and nuzzled his leg then went back to McGee's screen.
"Sure, you keep warm up there," he agreed, reaching up to pet him. The tail swished and the head got put onto his forepaws. McGee got back to work. "Why are we being drug tested this time?"
"Hubert caught an agent sniffing coke at her desk and bit her."
"It was a good job," Gibbs said.
Kate looked at him. "He's that intelligent?" Hubert looked at her and beamed then nodded. "You can't be. Your brain's not that big."
"If he's a dragon there's probably more to him than appears," McGee said dryly. "I'm wondering how large he'll grow." Greg handed over a picture. "What's this?"
"Mystical road trip with Xander and Ryan." He sat down and shuddered. "Hubert wanted to come and couldn't. That was a momma dragon that Xander cooed at; she let scratch her chin."
McGee looked at the height difference between Xander, who looked fairly tiny, and the big mother dragon, letting the dragon see it. "Is she your species?" The dragon steamed, nosing it. "Huh. So some century you'll be that big, huh? That's kinda interesting. Will he be able to hunt?"
"Yup," Greg said. "Xander takes him into the woods and teaches him how to track now and then at the farm. He got a bunny rabbit a few months back."
Hubert's tail waved a bit and he steamed then put his head back down.
"Mystical road trip?" Kate asked.
Greg looked at her. "Do you honestly think Xander found Hubert anywhere on *this* plane of existence?" She went pale. "Or learned those dances?" She whimpered. "Mystical. Road. Trip. Thankfully he has to take Ryan on those for protection or we'd have to invade to get him back. It's bad enough when they come here to take him, Horatio, and Ryan that time." He got back to work.
Gibbs looked at him. "They came.... why?"
"Redheads were so rare they were nearly mythical. They wanted Xander and Ryan as regular sex slaves but Horatio would've been a prize. That's how Horatio hurt his back. He tried to get free and a disc blew. That's when Ryan took his *special* training and they got the marks they wear in tattoo form. It's also where Ryan got Princess, his warmare."
"Warmare?" McGee asked.
"Yeah, fully trained for combat," Tony agreed. "He's got two now. For the same reason Xander has two of each of his pets but Hubert. The same creature did it. Then Xander's got his stallion and a foal they adopted from the ASPCA. They're at the farm. Xander's out there nearly every day riding."
Gibbs shook his head quickly. "I don't want to see Xander on a horse. Really."
"His stallion's black and about eighteen hands, boss. He looks good on him."
"Enough," he ordered.
"Sure, boss." He grinned at Greg. "Can you ride?"
"I can. Ryan and Xander taught me. Horatio and Speed take both Princesses out for picnics now and then too." Gibbs moaned, holding his head. "I have pictures of the new ferretopia." He pulled them up. "He's got about ten cages now. They go across one wall and slightly around a corner onto another one. He said his ferrets were loving it." Hubert nosed a picture. "A few more days and you can go back, Hubert. They wanted to make sure you wouldn't get sick like the Xander daddy did." Hubert settled down again. The Internal Affairs agent stomped into their row. "Wanted to see my friend's new ferret kingdom?" He let him see the cage's pictures. "He's calling it Ferretopia. Even has a little bronze plaque on it."
He handed it back, shaking his head. "They said the thing that bit her is yours?"
"We're dragon sitting while his human has mumps." He pointed at the dragon. Who was gone. "Hubert!"
McGee grabbed him and handed him over. "He was trying to get into my bottom desk drawer. He opened it then slammed it. "Boss, whoever that insane person is is back. I think I need my desk checked."
"Why?" he asked, looking over.
McGee found a pen so he could pull out the used panties and hold them up. "Because I'd never wear them and if I was that nasty you would've scrubbed me by now." Hubert came back to sniff. "No! You don't know what you'll catch off the skank doing that!" He let Tony take the pen and panties from him while he leaned against the front of his desk, petting the dragon. "He belongs to a guy down in Miami who's a friend of Tony and Greg's. He's very intelligent and I'm sure he didn't want to hurt her. After all, he's carnivorous. If he wanted to he probably could've taken a good chunk out of her ankle." The dragon gave him a disgusted look then shook his head. "I know, she'd taste bad." Hubert nodded and put his head back on the human petter's shoulder. His tail swished when he smelled the squealy one, and he made a gentle 'meep' noise. She squealed and stole him to pet from her lap, making him give the others smug looks.
The IA agent shook his head quickly. "Get him out of the building."
"He snuck into DiNozzo's car this morning," Gibbs told him. "He's used to police stations since his human pet brings him to lunches with his lover at the station down there."
Tony pulled out a few more things. "Probie, are you stocking KY tubes? Half used and not?"
"I have a half-tube in case I have to get the desks back together again. That one area sticks and grinds in a bad way if I don't. Mine's the normal formula, small tube." Tony held his up. "Looks like mine."
"Heating one yours?"
"No. I'm not that kinky."
"Neither am I." He put those with the panties and dug out more. "Flowered sundress?"
"Don't make me hit you."
"Sure." He put that on top of the other stack. Then he pulled out something and held it up. "Huh." He showed it to him, getting a white hot blush. "Yours?"
"No," he said, shaking his head violently until the dragon came back to cuddle him. "Thank you, Hubert. You're a good friend."
"What do you use that for?" Gibbs asked.
"I'm not really sure," Abby admitted.
Greg looked up from his email reading then shrugged. "It's a specific type of garter for mantyhose. To help you tuck better." Everyone stared at him. "I worked in Las Vegas, people. I've tested them for DNA before." They all shuddered. "Those things are damn expensive and hard to find. I know a queen who couldn't find one she wanted for months."
"It's a lead," Gibbs said. "Anything else, DiNozzo?"
"Um... Yeah. McGee...."
"If it's sex related of course I wouldn't bring it here." Tony walked the towel-wrapped thing over to show him. "You can monogram those?"
"At the place in the mall," Greg quipped. "Anything metal or hard plastic." He looked then shrugged. "Place by the Mall, the Lincoln end, has somewhere you can buy those. That's where I got your monogrammed case, Tony."
"Okay." He put it into a bag as well. "Not yours, right?"
"If it was I'd never bring it here!" he said in a high, squeaky voice. Hubert purred and he calmed down, going back to petting him. "I want the skanky bitch who keeps doing that gone!" he complained. "Anything else I should know?"
"Non latex condoms," Tony said, pulling out a long strip of them. "Fourteen of them." He looked at McGee.
"I don't know anyone with a latex allergy," he admitted.
"He does?" Greg nodded. "Are they yours?"
Greg looked. "No, I like the other brand."
"I was wondering about that," Tony admitted. He bagged them too, searching the other drawers. "All yours, Probie. Is that your usual background for your monitor?"
He looked then shook his head. "No. That was changed on me. I had a nice, scenic view of the sunset over the Potomac." He pulled the file's specifications and properties off and gave the copy of it to Tony too. "There you go." He changed it back and found a few others to save down for him. "And a few more. One of Xander."
"He's pretty enough," Tony admitted. He looked at them. "Telephoto lens. Shit," he said suddenly. Greg came over to look over his shoulder. "Em." He flipped. "Xander. Philip, from Baltimore," he said quietly. "You." He looked up. "Who's the other one?"
He looked. "Melissa. The new girl in New York," he said. Gibbs came over to look. "Any others?" Tony flipped to the last picture. "Who is that?"
"That's Don Epps' brother," Gibbs said, finding the phone to call him. He got voicemail. "It's Gibbs, call me ASAP, Epps. I just found your picture on one of my guys' computer from his stalker along with a lot of other pictures of people who were at the convention." He hung up and looked at Tony. "They local?"
"Baltimore, rural Virginia," he said at the one picture. "Xander. Greg. His brother."
"Two relatively close, Sanders, Harris, and him. You?"
McGee did a time search, coming up with a few more. "There's a few other pictures I don't recognize but they're location shots, boss." He let him see.
Tony came over to look. "That's the place in Baltimore," Gibbs said. "The one Ducky took me to for explanations."
Tony nodded. "The farm's Em's. We chat a lot. She lost her keeper last year. We thought she was going to follow," he said quietly.
"You know about those freaks?" the IA guy asked. He was sneering at Greg now. "I knew you do."
"Don't make me hit you," Greg warned. "I doubt you'd like it with the way Xander and Ryan both upped my self defense then the boss added military style to it." He came over to look. "That's the Vegas lab's morgue entrance." Tony whimpered. "Mine's older. When I was just starting on field training." He looked at Tony's computer, going over to grab Gibbs' phone when it rang. "Sanders. Yeah, he's helping McGee weed out pictures. Give us ten. We're still weeding. So far, mine, his, Xander's, a few local." He nodded. "Yeah, give us ten more." He hung up. "He said to call him back with a list." He looked. "That's Cal Sci's campus. I was there for a DNA lecture a few years ago." Gibbs looked at him. "They have a good department." They kept going. "That's the front yard, pre orchard, at Xander's." That got a shudder. McGee did another search and came up with a new picture. "That's just sick," he decided. It was hopefully doctored. "Please let it be doctored."
Tony looked then shrugged. "Em's been missing for two weeks, guys. We've alerted people and no one's heard a thing."
Gibbs looked at him. "You didn't tell me why?"
"Because we can't get hold of her sister that she could've went to visit. I've been checking in with the cops down there. She's out of our area too. She's out of the Richmond FBI office's area. Copy all those onto one CD, Probie. Even if I have to walk it across town it'll get looked at." He nodded. "Any other?"
"One marked crime scene one that I'm not sure we didn't take since it's listed as being from one of our cameras." He opened it and groaned. "Do we know that case?"
Greg looked then nodded. "Six weeks ago. Um, cadet at the academy. Second year." He looked at Gibbs. "Don't remember the name. Jealous girlfriend? Maybe?"
Gibbs looked then nodded. "If I remember right." He went to look up the name. "Phoranis?"
Tony pulled out a book, frowning. He handed it over to his boss, open to the right page. "His mom is."
"Shit," McGee said. "Then why target me?"
"Maybe they want you to stop them," Greg said.
"Maybe. Or maybe they think you're involved," Tony said. "You were talking to your friend on the phone the other day. Not about this stuff but if they know..."
"Yeah, I was, about when this all started," he said, looking at Gibbs. "Do we go FBI or not?"
"This is NCIS domain," the IA agent said firmly. "If she's stalking you...."
"Technically the rules state that the FBI gets any case about any other federal agent," Tony told him. "Fornell likes to shove that down our throat now and then. I'm all for asking the BAU guys, Gibbs. Kate?"
"I have no clue if whoever is mad at them or wants to be them. They're mixing their message with the smut then the killing stuff. I'm going to go with a higher source."
"Plus one of them knows," Gibbs said quietly. "And could be a target too." Tony nodded. "We'll talk to them later. Thank you, Agent Hopkins. We'll handle this in-team and with help."
"I want kept informed. Especially if this little cult leads to less than exemplary behavior."
"You know, if we could fix the issues that create the higher pheromones, it'd be different. Since the only things that can lower it will kill us, I doubt we're that desperate for the most part," Greg told him. "Now get the hell out of my face before I bust yours." He walked off smirking. Greg glared until the guy tripped on the stairs. "I'm getting his badge yanked," he muttered.
"No," Tony ordered. Greg slumped. "Don't. That's not ethical." Greg nodded, sitting down again. "Boss?"
"I'll call the one I know, boys. Have Abby process that immediately while I call them then Epps back." He picked up his phone to do that while Tony took the things downstairs. "Epps, Gibbs. McGee, on my team, has a stalker. He got some people from the convention and your brother's picture. Including a picture of his campus and a few crime scene style photos. One taken on NCIS cameras. We're working on it now. We know one's missing but we're not sure at the moment. DiNozzo's been working on that. He wanted BAU involved. You going to fuss?" He nodded. "That'll work. Guard him until we have an idea. Hopefully today. Because we think they targeted McGee because he was chatting with an old friend from college who was on the *other* side of the equation." He nodded. "Exactly. Be careful." He hung up and looked up the number. "Agent Reed please?" He waited a few seconds. "Reed, Gibbs. We've got one of your sickos after the convention's people. McGee's computer and desk. Including Epps' brother. We're here. Come over. Abby's processing." The dragon waddled over and huffed in his ear. "Hubert." He pushed him gently away, rolling his eyes at the question. "He's up being babysat." He hung up. "McGee, lock it down until their tech gets here. She's supposed to be as good, if not better than you."
"I bow to the woman, Gibbs. We're equal in some things but she's better in this area." That got a nod. "Want me to make copies of the pictures for Epps?" Gibbs nodded so he moved to Tony's computer to do that. He got a blank CD out of his desk and loaded it. It came up with pictures. He looked. Then he ran off to be sick.
Gibbs looked then called Abby. "Someone switched out McGee's blank CD's for ones with crime scene photos, Abby. He's getting sick." He hung up. Then he went to find him. "You know her?"
"I went to college with her. That's my friend's wife, Gibbs." He gave him a look then got sick again.
Gibbs went back, finding Abby chatting with a heavyset woman wearing flashy clothes and brightly colored glasses, plus sparkly things in her hair. "You are?"
"This is Miss Garcia from the BAU," Abby said. She let her have the CD's. "I took the one out of Tony's computer for him. McGee looked like he was trying to copy the ones we've already found."
"One of the pictures we found today was the brother of an agent out in the LA office of the FBI," he told her.
"Hmm. I saw that." She gathered the rest and sat down at McGee's computer, smiling at the helpful creature who came over. "Hello, sweetie. What are you?"
"That's Hubert. Xander's baby dragon," Abby said, picking him up to cuddle. "He's a good boy. He nipped an agent he found snorting coke at her desk this morning."
"Good for him," she said, getting into his computer once he had given her the password. She giggled at something. "I know that game. I was there until last year." She moved on at his weak smile. "The person on the CD?"
"I was talking to her husband the day before the first thing showed up," he said, sitting down at Tony's desk, taking Hubert to cuddle. "Abby, processing?"
"They're running and Tony's watching my machines. Are you all right?"
"I'm fine. Thank you." She gave him a hug then went back to her lab. "Did she take the original from mine to copy?"
"Yup, and the others," she agreed. "I've met Charlie Epps in the past at a computer conference sponsored by the NSA. He's a nice guy. Very sweet but a bit confused. Has great hair. He's the sort you want to bring home to Momma and make her happy."
McGee smiled. "I'll tell him you said that."
"He laughed when I told him that." She got back to work, finding everything she needed. "What was in there today and what else was stuffed into your desk, sweetie? Tell Garcia."
He got the lists for her, handing them over. "All but today's."
She looked then nodded.
"Today's had mantyhose garter and tucking band, a sundress, some extra tubes of lube, fourteen non latex condoms, used panties, and a towel-wrapped, monogrammed sex toy," Greg reported. She gave him a happy look. "I'm CSI trained."
"Shit, sweetie, could use you around the office." She got back to work, holding up a CD when her boys came in. "Your copy. All the files I've found on his computer from that same user and her usual times. She's in here around one in the morning. Security hasn't answered an email back about who was up here then." She looked at Gibbs, who went to talk to them in person and get it. "Abby's still processing, including new images found on the CD's in his desk that were supposed to be blank."
"We'll need those," Reed said.
"Abby's copying them down in the lab and searching to see if any are their cases or not. We know one was. His mother was in the little blue book."
"I can pull up that file," Greg said, handing it over after a minute. "There you go. I'm running a check with the Richmond office over the possible kidnaping of the one we have the hopefully doctored picture of and Tony's been keeping track of. I'm waiting on a call back from my email."
"Good. Meeting room?" Gideon asked calmly.
"Upstairs," the director said from the walkway. "You can use my office and brief me at the same time."
Greg looked up. "Does that mean I can hit the asshole now?"
"No but I did want to know how you'd carry out that threat, Sanders."
Greg walked a card up there, showing it to him. "He wanted dinner the other night. I'd ask. Nicely." That got a shudder. "If I get sneered at I'm going to react."
"Agreed. I've given him a lecture and reminded him that is not an acceptable topic of public.... What is that?"
"We're baby dragon sitting. His humans got sent mumps in Miami."
"I heard about that. He can't go home?"
"They said they weren't sure he could get it. They said a week." That got a nod. "He snuck into Tony's car this morning."
"I had a dog that did that." He let them into his office, nodding at Abby, Tony, and Gibbs when they came up. "Do we have any answers?"
"The panties belong to someone in the databanks under a kidnaping kit," she said. "I ran it specially against one specific kit."
"She was?" the director asked.
She put down the forms. "Tony's friend."
"I've called the guys in the Richmond office. They're still cold. They can't get her sister. The local cops said her sister's been out of town for a few days. Which is unusual. She's pretty housebound due to old injuries from what Em told me." He sighed, sitting down. "We did warn Don Epps, right?" Gibbs nodded. "Good."
"There weren't any hairs that I've found so far." Greg got up and went to do that for her. "But we're apparently taking shifts."
"These are friends, Abby. It's painful for me to be up here the same as it is for him," Tony admitted quietly.
Reed looked at him. "If you need to we can come ask you later. Or get Adam."
Tony shrugged. "I know the ones around here better than he would from the regional conferences and I've been in Baltimore for work reasons."
"Let us know when you're getting close to your tolerance level," Hotchner said quietly. "The stress won't help and you'll forget stuff. We've seen it before you protest."
"So have I questioning officers after homicides," he agreed. "I couldn't look at the crime scene photos on his CD stack to identify. Sorry."
"No, we can do that," Abby assured him. "I can crop one for faces, Tony." He nodded, letting her go do that.
"So far, we know that they're either mad or desiring the GHS members and they do know about it somehow," Kate told them. "I can't tell which so far. I took the basics classes. We haven't had much to go on before today. This is the first time with more than trashy crap put into Probie's desk."
"What was it last time?" Reed asked.
"Six packets of birth control pills and some condoms. A bottle of lube. If I remember right a set of panties but they didn't appear used. Abby said the electronic noze picked up laundry detergent so she thought they'd be clean. Before then it was a taunting note. Another condom or three. We thought it was someone in the office who was registering her interest."
"Then today they changed his computer's background, they left us a lot of files he didn't find before, because he had no reason to," Garcia said, passing over the printout. "If this isn't one of our sickos I'd be surprised. This was good, quality work slipping it in."
"Remotely?" Reed asked.
She shook her head. "Sat down and uploaded from what I could tell. And I would be able to tell. I'm having Abby get me into the firewall to see if they've tried to upload any." Tim nodded, getting onto the director's computer to do that for her. She smiled. "You're handy."
"Of course I am," he said dryly, giving her a look. "Or else I'd have been canned by Gibbs. Even though I can fix his PDA."
She laughed. "I like smart men who have a clue." She came over to look, finding his computer's address. "How often do you change IP?"
"Every few weeks. If I have to hack someone official for a case." They all stared at him. "Legally of course."
"Which one were you talking to on the phone?" Gideon asked. McGee wrote down his name. "He's which side?"
"He's a keeper. The CD I ran on Tony's computer had his wife's picture on it."
"All right." He got into the files, starting to work on the profile. "We could move to a conference room, Director. We don't want to kick you out of your office."
"It's more secure in here. We have some bigoted assholes in this office." Greg came in and whispered in McGee's ear, getting a head shake. He whispered in Tony's ear, getting a moan and him curling up on himself. "We identified another one?"
"One of the ones in Baltimore." Greg rubbed Tony's shoulder. "It was on another of the supposedly blank CD's. We identified her by DMV photos." Hubert came over to sit on Tony's lap for a while. "Thanks, Hubert." He gave Tony a hug. "We're working our lab magic, Tony. Let us. We'll catch him or her. Whoever." He left again.
Gideon looked at Tony. "Go take a break. We can do this part of it without help." He nodded, leaving. "Agent Gibbs...."
"I'm calling Epps to update him."
"We'll gladly conference him in," Derek told him. "Not an issue." That got a nod. "The Miami office as well."
"No, if they're going after Harris, you tell Caine. He's family with him. Made family but still family. The guy down there agreed, Harris and them handle their own stuff unless it's like the biological weapon that just got sent to him the other day." Everyone stared at him. "Unrelated. It was related back to his poker habit and how their father lost his life for cheating him and some Mala Noche thugs. The General's sons."
"Interesting," Hotchner said. "I knew he was a suspected drug dealer."
"Diplomatic immunity," Gibbs told him. "No suspected about it."
"I hate them," Derek said grimly. "They sent what to the kid's house?"
"Mumps. That's why we have the dragon. The vet didn't want him in the house in case his immune system couldn't handle it."
"It's a good friend who'll pet sit," Gideon said quietly. "Which one?"
"Both. Greg used to be Xander's playmate and Tony knew him from the conventions. They teach self defense together."
"Interesting. Is Tony a regional liaison or anything?"
"As far as I know there aren't any. Except in New York. They have a matron who holds city-wide meetings every month to talk to the members. Speaking of, we need to warn her. The new one, Melissa, her picture was on today's file list."
"We can do that too. How do we get hold of her?" Reed asked.
"Her husband's a prosecutor." He wrote down a name. "That's him." That got a nod and he went to make the call. "Anything we can do right now?"
"Keep your agents close at hand," Hotchner told him. "Just in case. Do a lot of people know?"
"After Tony got given stuff by a terrorist? Most of your office know about him and Sanders. Half the office here knows about Sanders thanks to the time our old director tried to sell Harris." That got a nod. "He was with Xander at the time, up to help Tony. News got around then that they were a lot alike. The ones who didn't figure it out because they're piss poor agents got it from the gossips in HR." Fornell walked in without knocking. "Morning."
"Not a good one." He handed over the case file. "From the Richmond office. They faxed it up for you." He looked at him, nodding. "They found her body." Gibbs nodded, not looking happy. "And there was a nice name on the walls. DiNozzo's." Gibbs went to find him since he was out getting some fresh air. "I don't know if it leads back to DiNozzo or not. It could."
"He didn't seem to know Epps at the convention," Reed told him.
"But he does now." Tony was walked back in by Gibbs with the dragon. "What is that?"
"We're dragon sitting."
"Oh. That's his pet." He nodded. The dragon grumbled at him. "I don't like animals. Or people. Get over it." The dragon huffed and moved to cuddle Garcia, getting cooed at. "Did you know Charlie Epps?"
"Met him a few years back when he was in town doing NSA work?" He shrugged. "We met through a mutual acquaintance. He knew someone back in college. Did some math for the society. If this is about me, why put it in McGee's desk?"
"Because they don't think you're competent to figure it out," Reed told him. "They think your hormones are going to block you from doing the job. He's clearly involved since he knew people before he got here. Another stone in their downfall maybe."
"The old director?" Tony asked. Hotchner gave him a horrified look. "Could it be?"
"She would fit the profile we're building so far," Gideon admitted. "I would say that they're angry with your sort. That they feel you did something to personally affront them. Somehow took something from them by being yourself. They may desire McGee because he can withstand you guys when you're surging. That makes him worthy in their mind."
"We took her career from her when we found out she tried to sell Greg and Xander," Tony told him. "Plus tried to take the SUV from us."
"I'll send someone to check it over," Gibbs said, calling their bomb people to do that. "Where is Sanders?"
"Lab." Tony looked at them. "Then why go after Charlie?"
"A bright young man like that being sucked in," Reed told him. "It'd be like me being sucked in and found to be one of you. By their way of thinking, this ruins good people. Makes them useless, makes them unable to function. Makes them less than animals."
"The ones who take us feel that way," Tony agreed, sitting down again. "And..." He saw the file and pulled it over but Reed took it back, shaking his head. "I don't want to?"
"They found your name painted on Emily's wall," Gibbs told him quietly. Tony went limp and nodded, thinking for now. "Is she more likely than others?"
Gideon looked at him. "Let us finish the full file. Go check your row, make sure nothing else got pulled out. Garcia, check their systems since whoever clearly can get their passwords." She nodded, taking them down to do that.
"Do the lab too," Fornell called. "And the Morgue. They're both linked into Gibbs' team." He looked at them. "I want kept in the loop. If it's her, we'll have to stop DiNozzo from ripping her apart at the seams."
They nodded. "We can conference you in as easily as we can Epps and Caine." Fornell gave him an odd look. "Harris' picture was included as well."
"Aw, crap. Caine's going to have his panties in a twist. Miami's going to go to war. Harris has half the thugs in Miami wrapped around his fist from playing poker with them. That's why they all gave up the people who sent him the bioweapon. The Mala Noche who killed their father was more pissed that they were cheating Xander, but he knew he couldn't be gay because of the gang code. He admitted he did it because of both of them, not just him."
"Is he considered a dangerous sort?"
"Jorge Muerte?" They all shuddered. "Yeah. A bit. Thankfully he was out of the country when the attack happened. Caine got there first."
"We'll let Caine know when we have something."
"I'll let him know there's a threat first. As far as I know they're still in quarantine." Fornell walked off to do that from the balcony. "Speedle, Fornell in the FBI DC office. There's a credible threat to Harris. Off McGee's computer at NCIS. No, they're both fine but it appears to revolve around DiNozzo's life," he said quietly. "We have BAU people working on it right now. We'll conference your people in when we have a clue beyond this. Good. This number good?" He nodded. "We can do that." He hung up. "Kate?" he called. She looked up. "Anything?"
"Some files on mine. I have a locked drawer I never get into. We're getting a master key to open it." He nodded. "Greg's desk and computer were bare. Gibbs' had files."
"Let us have them as soon as you get them off." He went to get some coffee, thinking about this. This was *very* bad. If it was Sheppard at least he could see that. She had been destroyed by coming after Harris, Tony, and Sanders. Otherwise, he hoped Tony fucked them over good and it was a better reason than 'he broke up with me'. He'd had to deal with one of those over DiNozzo in the past, though only as a stalker. They had rescued her target before she had gotten them.
Speed hung up and looked around. "HORATIO!" he yelled. Horatio stood up from processing the scene. "That was Fornell, with the FBI. We have a credible threat to certain members of the family thanks to McGee's stalker. Revolving around Tony so far. They'll call back on your phone later once the BAU people have a clue."
"Set officers on his house," Horatio ordered. "We'll watch him." Speed came over while doing that. "How long?"
"Probably a bit. Fornell was talking like they'd only found it today."
"All right. Have we seen any moves toward Xander recently?"
"No," Speed said. "Not with half the department checking on his house. Not with Don and Danny home all the time."
"Good point." He considered it. "Revolving around Tony?" Speed nodded. "Why?"
"I don't know but he did say Greg and Tony were fine when I asked. Do we tell Xander?"
"We should," Frank said. "He might be able to get us information they can't."
"I'll go over to tell them," Horatio decided. "Frank?"
"Got it, go." Horatio left the scene, heading over there, hoping that it was going to be stopped up there quickly. He pulled into Xander's driveway, smiling at the dogs romping on the grass. They came over for some ear scratches then went back to it. He walked into the kitchen. "Guys?" he called, hand near his gun just in case.
"Bedroom," Danny called. He smiled, walking that way. "We're good. You didn't have to come check in personally, boss."
"I did. Agent McGee, on Greg and Tony's team, has a stalker who put pictures of Xander in with the other stuff she left. Fornell from the FBI called. He said it's a credible threat when he talked to Speed."
"Huh," Xander said from under the blankets. "They okay?"
"So far Greg and Tony are. They have... Remember the psychologist, Spenser Reed?" Xander's head lump nodded. "They're profilers and they have his people working on it." Xander peeked out at him. "You relapsed?"
"No, he had a violent nightmare and ended up hitting his head a few times against the bed pole," Don said, pointing. "His jaw's coming back from being broken."
"Good. Well, not *good*," he offered. "What were they about?"
"Another kidnaping," Danny told him. "Flashbacks to the cult." He stroked over Xander's hair. "He said he's hiding until he's pretty again."
"That's reasonable." He sat down, stroking over Xander's hair himself. "Have you heard anything about someone going after a lot of GHS?"
"I've heard we've had two disappear. One up in Virginia, rural Virginia. Lower than Richmond. One out of Baltimore if I remember right. One's son died at the Naval Academy and Tony's team had that but I'm not sure if Tony worked it or not." Horatio nodded. "I can call and ask."
"If you could. That way we can help you protect yourself."
"Why come after Tony? Unless it's someone like his director?"
"We don't know yet. We're waiting on the call. When we do get it, we'll conference you in on my end. All right?" They all nodded. "Good. For now, Speed put cars on the house. We want you to stay inside today."
"Oh, Jorge's back," Don said smugly. "He came over to rant earlier and complimented Xander on the house."
"Good to know. Would he possibly know or have heard?"
Danny shrugged. "If not, he'd know who to ask."
"Then I'll pay him an unofficial visit." He gave Xander another pet. "Take a shower, it'll help reduce the last of the swelling and your hair could use it."
"After you're gone since I'm kinda naked."
Horatio smiled. "Then I'll let you boys finish your rest. Monday, boys?" They nodded they'd be back to work then barring this being a major issue. "Thank you. It has been a bit boring today. Only one new case." He left, going down toward Mala Noche territory. He found their new outpost and parked, getting out and leaning on his hood, sunglasses firmly on. "Boys." They sneered at him. "I would like to speak to Jorge unofficially about something Xander's heard. Something about a threat to him." One walked off calling. "We can meet somewhere neutral or here. Either one."
"No vest? I'm shocked," a male voice said from behind him.
Horatio looked back. "I'm not here to arrest. If I was, I would've come with more officers." He looked at the one on the phone, getting a nod. "When and where?"
"What makes you think you'll live that long, pig?" the guy behind him asked. He found himself with Horatio's gun in his face a second later. "Huh, you're fast, Red. Got the temper from the hair?" he sneered.
"No. I don't. Never have." He cocked it. "Back down, now. I'm not here for you this time." He backed up, hands held away from his body. Horatio lowered his gun and looked at the other guy. "When and where?"
"He said he was wondering why cops were sitting on Xander's house." He came back over. "What's going on? He wanted to know."
"There's a serial killer we think is targeting GHS around one that Xander's close to. We think he's a target."
The guy said that in Portuguese then nodded. He hung up. "He said she's still in DC and she's a puny bitch. Been pretending to be a janitor and things. Said the guys on that team are slow. She's been leaving clues now for weeks."
"Harmless things like birth control pills and condoms. They misinterpreted it as someone was interested in him. Do we know who?"
"Not by name. Said she's just as red as you are only she has the temper." Horatio nodded at that. "Said there's a major brain conference up there right now as well."
"He's in DC?" That meant he had only stopped in on layover to see Xander earlier that morning.
He nodded. "Yeah. He's up making a few contacts happy. Said he'd let the brains handle it since the one boy, Tony, was seriously pissed now. Like kicking the wall pissed. Oh, and the dragon went to work with them earlier. Bit someone he found doing coke. Need anything else?"
"No, just that. If she comes this way?"
"You'll hear. You might get a present but you'll hear. He said the vengeance up there is strong enough to waken old blood."
"Thank you." He got into the hummer and went back to the scene, taking his phone from Speed before heading back to Xander's house. "Tony, put me on with the brain conference Jorge told me about," he ordered as he walked in the kitchen. "He's up there. Who did Hubert bite for doing coke in the office?" He smiled, attaching the external speaker from the office and carrying it back to the bedroom. "All right, we're here and I just talked to some of the Mala Noche since one of their lieutenants likes Xander like a little brother." Xander leaned out of the bathroom. "I talked to Jorge by interpreter."
"Is he up here?" Greg demanded.
"Making some contacts happy."
"Wonderful," Gibbs said blandly. "And?"
"Redhead, female. Said the vengeance was strong enough to wake some old blood."
"No, if she was going to vengeance demons I'd know," Xander said. "One would've shown up here already. They work instantly, not long term that way." He found his bathrobe and a towel, coming out. "I can let the conditioner sit." He curled up beside Don. "What else did they say?"
"Redhead with the temper that usually's associated. Very strong vengeance streak. Mad at Tony and you possibly. He did say she's still up there. She's been pretending to be a janitor to leave the messages and she's been doing it for weeks. He thought you guys were being slow figuring it out."
"It was inconsistent with the later photos," Reed said. "So it is their former director. How far would she go, Gibbs?"
"She's changed since I trained her, guys."
"She's snapped," Morgan agreed. "You know, I was thinking. We've found crime scene photos from eight cases. Only one body. Some of those were messy enough to get attention. News level attention."
"Six were in Baltimore or Virginia. We'd have heard," Gibbs said. He dialed something, they could hear the beeps. "Abby, compare those photos to other crime scene photos in our database. We think she put heads on the bodies." He listened then nodded. "Abby and Greg said they photoshopped." He hung up. "So where are they?"
"Gibbs, duh," Don said dryly. "What did she do to Xander and try to do to Greg?"
"She sold them?" Reed asked. "You think?"
"Pretty certain," Gideon said calmly. "That would fit her prior actions. That would get Tony back. The one she did kill probably fought back."
"She was a first degree black belt in Judo," Tony told them. "Yeah, she would've fought back."
"Jorge said you were so pissed you were kicking walls. He told me how Hubert bit someone for doing coke in the office," Horatio told him.
"Aw, shit, he's after an agent," Tony moaned. "Any idea?"
"He said making contacts happy."
"They have Gibbs on their hitlist," Xander said quietly. "And a few others. When I heard, I emailed them to Greg."
"Greg has a possible list," Horatio said less quietly. "Including you, Gibbs. We do know he said she's still up there. He said if she came this way I'd be getting a present."
"Not a pretty one I'm sure," Danny told them. "You guys need help?"
"Nope," Gibbs told him. "Keep your boy safe. We'll let Epps know since his brother was involved."
"Why? He's not one of us," Xander said. "That I know of."
"He did some math for the group and his brother knows now. She could think he is and that it ruined him," Reed told him. "Are you okay, Xander?"
"I'm fine. I'm nearly better now. Thank you for asking, Agent Reed."
"You're welcome." He smiled it sounded like. "We'll let you guys rest. Since she's up here we can do a manhunt."
"The Mala Noches down here work with the Crypts a lot recently," Xander told them, leaning forward. "They've been doing some deals with them. Plus a few of the smaller, less regionally sponsored gangs. The ones that may be only in one city at the moment but they don't have the same sort of cause that started the Mala movement."
"You know why they were started?" Don asked.
"Jorge explained it to us when I asked. He said the civil wars, guerilla wars, and all that shitload of bad karma and torture down there spawned a lot of that stuff. They're built on pain and blood, both revolutionary and not. He said that the Noches were started by people who were peasants caught in the middle of a guerilla war who had no idea what was going on or wanted to take part in it. Then both sides came in, raped their women, killed their families, and the younger guys snapped. They sent a lot of their profits back to their homes to protect their people. Even if I don't like their methods, I understand why they formed."
"That's what we've heard as well," Derek admitted. "So why work with the single city gangs?"
"Consolidating? Allies are good in any city and those sort of gangs would've be part of any rivalry that would piss off others, would they?" Xander asked. "Angst and payback free allies."
"That's a good point," Horatio admitted. "They're also usually looking to expand. With a very tough gang like that affiliated they'd be able to get more power and more bargaining chips for whatever deals they were making, even if it's only for turf at the moment."
"Those sort wouldn't be caught by agents," Don said. "Especially not Gibbs and them."
"We have a few gang members in the military," Gibbs told him.
"And you have some that've went there after they got discharged. Battle at home when they can't anywhere else. Making sure that they're keeping the homeland safe. There's been a few eager 'homeland protecting' groups that've taken up where the Klan and them stopped," Tony said quietly. "We tangled with one last month, Gibbs. They aren't usually pro immigrant but if they wanted to align to someone like the Mala Noche it'd be for supplies and so they could feel like they were destroying them from the inside out. They told you to your face that us busting them was destroying their good work and the US would fall."
"How would we find who she's selling them to?" Reed asked. "She can't get her old position or status back."
"No but she can use them as bargaining chips and if she can use them to lure a major evil out and then capture them, she can get a position back and work to climb back up," Horatio told him.
"We've seen bad cops doing it in the past," Don agreed. "My dad came up with one. He was dirty as they came back in the old days, but he helped Dad with all his rescue work and kept getting promoted."
"The same as you overlook Superman's violent tendencies but if you find a normal guy doing it you call him a vigilante," Xander agreed.
"Who was she focused on?" Gideon asked.
"La Granouille. Arms dealer out of France," Gibbs told him. "Tried to get Tony to go undercover for her but too many people know him."
"That always hit me as personal," Tony told them. "This is more professional feeling for some reason. She could go higher. There's people she can bribe higher up the chain with one of us. Hell if she had gotten me there's a few people in Asia and one in Africa who'd give his soul for me." Gibbs moaned at that. "Sorry, boss, but yeah, they want my tight ass. The one in Africa has since I was playing ball. He makes a feint every now and then."
"Is he on the commonly seen names list?" Reed asked.
"Yup, near the bottom. From Egypt." He hummed and shifted, you could hear him through the phone. "All right, she's clearly working out of my phone book and whoever her contacts were before. We know she worked in Europe and with the Mossad. She tried to force a Mossad agent onto our team for training."
"She was nice enough," Kate offered. "Kinda uptight and linked to the person who wanted to kill us all, especially Gibbs. She was going to sell Greg to someone in the Middle East."
"Mossad knows about us," Tony admitted. "They have one who's a former keeper. He got dumped a few years back by his girlfriend, a level three. She was in .. I wanna say Pensacola. We knew he reported back to his bosses because they rounded up theirs and stuck them under watch for about a year. When an illegal contact told them why we're like this they backed off but any members over there are kept under governmental watch in case they disappear or are used as currency." He shifted again. "Would she go arms dealer or not, Gibbs?"
"With this many of you she could be working her way up," Gibbs admitted. "Could she be working with someone? Like someone in the CIA?"
Gideon coughed. "If she were, they'd be in deep trouble for human trafficking. Even those who believe winning at any cost is the goal wouldn't allow that."
"She could justify it. After all, we do have the retrieval squad," Tony told him. "They're all Special Forces."
"They're about to get my foot up their asses," Xander said. "You know, I got a sudden offer from an former Mossad guy who now deals in weapons the other day?"
"Odd timing," Tony said.
"That's why I'm mentioning it."
"You're wearing a GPS chip when you go," Danny ordered. "And taking one of us."
"Of course I am and no. He said I can't bring anyone. He said he's not either. We're meeting at the airport." He grimaced. "Then again, I've got the Customs thingy hanging over my head still now and then. They still give me dirty looks when I try to leave for anywhere that needs a passport."
"You are not to go alone, Xander," Horatio said. Xander gave him a look then gave a pointed one at his sword then back. "I don't care. Even that sort."
"Was it our sort or not?" Don asked in his ear.
Xander looked at him. "He wasn't threatening in any way. He said he wanted to hook me into his network based on mutual contacts. I checked the ones on this end and they seemed legit. Andrea mentioned me to him a lot." That got a small moan from Danny. "She knew I was bragging about my newest handgun. We got into some weapons talks. She agreed, me having weapons kept my ass here in Miami instead of elsewhere. She set me up with two other contacts but they had higher tech stuff than I wanted. They're still looking for me and one of them vouched for this guy too."
"I would still rather not have you go alone," Horatio told him.
Xander kissed him on the cheek. "If I can make Ryan invisible I'll bring him."
"Thank you." He smiled. "Jaw feeling better?"
"Much. The shower worked very well." He looked at the phone. "Do we think she's sicced someone on me? Is she using them to buy information and handing over their bodies or just handing over their addresses?"
"She's been photoshopping crime scene photos," Tony told him. "That takes preplanning. Though, have we noticed they're all white and male outside of Em?" That got a muted noise from the other end. "Now what?"
"Now, you get onto the website and into the local forum to warn people. See who's missing, see if you can get Paul onto them. If we find anything we'll pass it onto him," Gibbs ordered.
"On it, boss." He left, a door slammed.
"Boys, I want you to stay home. Xander, I don't like the sound of this arms dealer. Do we know him?"
"Oh, we know him," Fornell said grimly. "Major asshole who joined an anti-gay protest in his country if I remembered right."
"To those sort, GHS are doing whatever they can until a rightful pet owner adopts," Xander said dryly. "They figure any dick in a storm, Fornell."
"You know me?"
"Yeah I know you. Dumbass." He shook his head. "Anyway. We'll be fine. Should I call Don to tell him not to worry so much about Charlie?"
"No, we'll do that," Gibbs told him. "You feel better, boys. Hubert's been sucking up affection by cuddling and demanding petting from whoever was upset at the time." He hung up and looked at his people. "Xander knows a lot of people who aren't sure how. We don't know how."
"How is she getting in even as a janitor?" Hotchner asked. "I know ours was checked."
"Fake ID," Reed said, grimacing some. "She's used to covert work."
"Let's start a quiet manhunt for her," the present director ordered. "No letting it out to the press. Alert all agencies she's armed, dangerous, and a former covert agent."
"If she's working with another agency, they'll tell her," Gibbs pointed out. "I'd rather leave it as our two agencies. After all, Fornell knows his office. We know ours." That got a nod. "She's our problem anyway." He stood up. "Let me put that out. Fornell?" He nodded. He walked out. "Cynthia, call a team leader meeting immediately. All of them are to meet me in the conference room as soon as they hear from you. We're on a manhunt. A quiet manhunt." She nodded, making the conference call while he walked that way. People came running in. "We found McGee's stalker," he announced when the last one walked in. "We have proof she's selling human beings to other countries for information. We also think she may be working with other agencies. We know she has planted evidence of horrific crimes in McGee's desk this last time, all but one photoshopped from our casefiles. We're working on finding them but for now we have to find the former Director, Jen Sheppard." That got some gasps of horror. "We know she's sold at least seven people." Tony walked in. "Seven?"
"Nine. Two of the ones in North Carolina are unaccounted for and can't be found by their friends." He closed the door. "We know she is using their bodies and lives to buy information to try to get back in someone's good graces. We know that there's a good chance all nine of those people are now dead. Probably much more graphically than the pictures she left McGee of one of his friend's wives." That got a few more shudders. "She has disgraced this agency, she has disgraced the whole intelligence and law enforcement community. We don't want her on the news and we don't want her to run. We want to capture her even if she is working with someone somewhere in the NSA or CIA. Got it?" They all nodded. "We want her by lunchtime if at all humanly possible so we can save those nine lives." He handed Gibbs a sheet of paper. "Also, there has been some Mala Noches hits announced recently. Gibbs and two other local agents are on their hit list. Find your people, warn them. They do have a hitter in town as we found out earlier by contacting a friend in Florida." They nodded, taking the list and two head agents stomped off to tell their people the bad news. "Please, let's get her," he ordered. He walked down the stairs. "Probie, BOLO?"
"In place. Reason why given. Ordered to keep it quiet and call directly if contact is made. I gave them ours and Fornell's number."
"I called a friend at our Army counterpart. They're doing the same thing. I have her credit cards pulled up at the moment, no new activity in two days." Tony nodded. "We'll get her."
"Is Greg still in the lab?" She nodded. "Abby?"
"Abby and Garcia went out to get new sodas," McGee said. He called them, not getting an answer. "She wasn't on the list."
"Like she gives a damn," Gibbs said as he came down the stairs. "Have we gotten a 'hand him over or else' message yet?" He checked his own email. "DiNozzo?"
He checked his. "Nothing." He got into Greg's. "Nothing on his. McGee?"
"Logging in." He came up. "Yup. You can have Abby and their pretty tech if you give her Greg." He looked up. "No mention of Tony but she said you can do without Greg." He put it onto the main screen.
"I take it that's why we can't reach Garcia?" Gideon asked.
"Apparently they snuck out for sodas," Gibbs said with a small, frustrated sounding sigh at the end. "When and where?" McGee typed that back.
Tony stood up on his desk. "As an update, she has taken Abby, out of the labs, and one of the FBI's senior computer techs hostage." He hopped back down once he got horrified looks.
"Got her!" someone yelled.
"Bingo," Reed agreed, heading over to look. "What's she using?"
"Her mother's credit cards and ID. Here's her hotel room. Here's where she was twenty minutes ago. This is the car she rented," she said, handing over the information to Gibbs. "Paddle her ass, please."
"Going to," Tony agreed happily, stabbing the button. "Last one down sits in the back of the car while *I* drive," he shouted. Kate and McGee hurried after him, Gibbs barely making the elevator this time. He called Greg. "Stay. Here. She took Abby and Garcia. Stay here." He hung up and they went to handle this. He made sure he had his vest on it and it was perfectly fitted to him. Then he checked his weapons. "Gotta stop in the trunk, boss." He went to do that, taking out the spare clips he had, walking back over to get into the shotgun seat. "Okay, I'm good." He changed out for a full clip. Kate gave him a look. "Rats last night. I used a silencer." He grinned. "They came in to nibble."
"Uh-huh," she said. "You're scary, Tony."
"She stole my people, Kate. She hasn't seen scary yet. Especially if she thinks my hormones are going to stop me from getting her." He stuffed his other clips into his pockets and made sure he was buckled up as they pulled out of the garage.
Don paced until he heard back. "Epps." He smiled and relaxed. "We did get them? Who? And why?" He nodded slowly, sitting down in David's desk chair. "You're joking. Please tell me you're joking?" He nodded, rubbing his forehead. "Yeah, I can have him, Larry, and their boss put into protective custody immediately. Amita too since she's helped both of them. Thanks, Gibbs." He hung up. "Megan, get the golden trio and Millie here, now. When they found the person responsible for the threat against Charlie they found others willing to sell geniuses and other useable capitol to people for information. He's still on the list." She nodded, hurrying out. He called. "Drop what you're doing. Grab Amita, Larry, and Millie, meet Megan. Get your asses here." He hung up and went back to pacing. Colby stopped him by grabbing him. "They found others who wanted to do it."
"Working but slowly. Right now we're working at the speed of Gibbs." He gave him a look when he laughed. "It's faster. They're all on a list of offered people for information or useful trade. Gibbs said the list goes back ten years." He went back to pacing. "He's not sure how many are involved yet but he doesn't know if there's any on this coast right now who'll snatch them up and take them anyway. This is the problem with being a genius in a field that's useable. People want to use you. They think you're their personal spout of information and ideas."
"We do the same thing," Colby pointed out.
"No, I tried to get Charlie to quit and he wouldn't. He offered and he demanded. We didn't buy him, we don't force him. We do occasionally beg him and he caves in, but nothing like this." He waved a hand. "If we had a target I'd go hunt it down."
"Half an hour to the college then back," David said calmly. "I've alerted the security people at the college that there's a threat against certain professors' lives. That we knew three or four and we were taking them into custody. As we heard more we'd warn them but to be on the lookout for people trying to take professors or really gifted students." Don nodded at that, but he didn't look any happier. "They'll be fine, Don."
"I know they will because I'll kill someone if they're not," he promised. "How in the hell can our own people do this!"
"They think it's the only way," Colby told him. "Winning at any cost, like undercover agents being lost." Don grimaced but nodded. "How many of them are like that one guy you told us about?"
"Many. That's what she started out using. Then she faked crime scene photos and planted them in McGee's desk. She went from birth control to that." He rubbed his forehead again. "This is waiting I don't like. I should've went."
"You would've crashed the car," David said patiently. "They'll call once Megan has them." He got into the system. "Have we had other geniuses go missing?" He did a keyword search under profession and description fields. "I'll be damned. We have three open cases of geniuses in biology that've gone missing."
"Organic like could build bioweapons?" Don demanded, coming over to look. "Two are. What's the other's field?"
"Looks like sealife."
Don frowned. "Sealife? They needed a genius to take over their fishtank?"
"Some of the best toxins known to mankind come from natural sources," Don's father said from the end of their pod. "I came for lunch. You're pacing. Where's your brother?"
"On his way here because there's a list of offered geniuses that some corrupt agents are selling for information."
"Good! Okay. Do we know who?"
"We're having the DC office working on it. They told us this morning one of their agents has a stalker and among the many pictures she put onto McGee's computer was Charlie's," Colby told him. "So we warned him earlier since they were pretty sure she was still in DC and he refused to not teach today."
"I sat an agent at the college," Don admitted. "Now I don't know if I can trust him or not."
"There can't be more than a few of them," Alan said calmly, looking at his son. "If this was that widespread, they'd have come after Charlie before."
"They had pictures of his campus, Dad. And of him."
"So they're sick," he agreed. "Who's in charge?"
"NCIS and the FBI out there. The behavioral analysis people are into it too since they were brought in to profile the stalker. Turns out to be their former director."
"Trying to win back friends and her old job by pulling someone great in?" They all nodded. "I doubt you boys or others would trust her."
"She tried to sell someone from her own agency," Don told him. "No, they won't." He went back to pacing. "You can wait with us, Dad."
"Of course I will." He stopped his other son. "Charlie will be fine and so will the others. If someone's that stupid we'll get him back. They won't torture guys like Charlie. It means they don't work for their new keepers."
Don nodded. "Good point. We'd have time to get him back as long as we were subtle about it."
"Exactly. So less pacing before they make you replace the carpet. Because I remember the last time you tried to help me replace the carpet at the house." Don nodded, grinning a bit. His phone rang so he jumped over to get it.
"Yeah, Epps." He smiled. "Good. Tell her to quit arguing and get in the car. Because your names were on a list of scientists up for sale for information, Charlie." Charlie told that to Millie and she quit complaining. "David found three biologists who're open cases. We want you four here." He hung up. "Megan has them. Millie's no longer complaining. Megan had the agent stay on campus after giving him the quick briefing on the way to grab them from Larry's office." He sat down, looking at his dad. "It's not just scientists."
"Of course not. Some people couldn't use someone like Charlie. Some want someone for revenge and some want certain people for pleasure." Don nodded. "They arrested her?"
"Charged her with human trafficking, treason, and a few charges related to the stalking, plus the homicide we know she did," Don agreed.
"That was some good interdepartmental cooperation," Colby said, sitting in his chair. David nodded. "BAU, FBI, and NCIS. The hardest team at NCIS at that. They drive us nuts," he told Alan. "BAU are good. The profilers are pretty decent folks on the team they had. They work with you, only give you dirty looks when you say something stupid. The problem is that there's five teams. The others...."
"Are pompous asses with a degree?" Alan suggested. "Charlie runs into those now and then. He was complaining about a new one in the department the other day."
"That NCIS team is headed by a Marine, Dad. He drives other agencies off their cases so he doesn't have to deal with bureaucratic bs. When I was working out of the DC office, there were whole floors who sent you flowers if you got a case with Gibbs because he'd run you over, take over for you so he didn't have to put up with crap, then do the case right and hand you the reports. Well, his second-in-command would hand you the reports. They've got the agency's highest solve rate though and they're damn good at what they do."
"Sounds like a bastard," David said.
Don looked at him. "He told an agent that's what the second 'b' in his name was for." David snickered. "Gave him this dry look too. Turned the rookie agent into a crying puddle for trying to do things by the book when it wasn't a situation that it was a good option in. He knows better now. He's a decent agent now. Edgerton's the only one I've ever seen snort at him and walk away smirking when he gave an order. His people don't even get to apologize." His father gave him an odd look. "It's a sign of weakness. They have a 'won't do it again, boss' statement for that."
"Sounds like a bastard," Alan agreed.
"If you're not working with him he's okay," Don admitted. "He was at the same convention I was getting briefed." He looked at David. "If they have to come out here...."
"We'll let you liaison," Colby assured him with a smirk. "Not a problem there, Don."
"Just live up to his expectations," Don told them. Megan and the others came off the elevators. "Ran the lights?"
"Yeah," she admitted. "Someone tried to shoot at the car. Since I know they work on the eighth floor I wasn't going to take any chances. I had CHP stop their asses and bring them in." She sat down. "Any new news?"
"David found a few in the system."
Millie pointed. "Can I see? I might know some." He nodded, letting her see the names. "Hmm. He's working on algae and that level of sealife. Those two I don't know."
Larry looked over her shoulder. "The top two were in a journal the other month. What as it?" His finger tapped his lip while he thought.
"Were they the two doing particle extraction or not?" Charlie asked.
"No, the other set. The issue before that one."
"Oh!" He nodded. "They were working on cross pollination of some species of plants and how to strengthen some dying species that way possibly. To make them more disease resistant. Not down to the gene tampering level but breeding. They had a geneticist on with them though. They were reporting preliminary findings."
"Yes, them," Larry agreed, looking around. "I'm on another one?" Don nodded. "Why?"
"This one goes back as far as ten years," Don told him.
"Then maybe it's the same one." He shrugged. "They tried the last time and Charles managed to save me by calling me for coffee when I almost walked into their recruiting trap."
"I've seen a few hunters on campus again," Charlie admitted. Don and his father both stared. Colby gaped. He shrugged. "There's always people who want us to use what we know to make their version of a better society." Amita shuddered. "She got approached by someone who wanted her to work on nuclear power issues recently. Some pay, some won't pay or can't pay, and some know we'll have ethical issues so the only way they get the geniuses they need is to steal or buy them."
"If we have the list, we can call people we know and let them know," Millie offered. "That way they can be a bit protective of themselves." The FBI agents looked at each other then Don nodded. David handed it over from the fax machine. "I know a good few of those names."
"I'll take Herman first," Larry said.
Charlie looked. "I'll take the Pie house." He went to do that.
"It's a few math and physics geniuses who live together," Millie told him. "They're east coast though."
Charlie smiled when he got an answer. "Darren? Charlie Epps. No, not that sort of problem. Hunters sort of problem. There's a new buy list, this one's about ten years of wanting to current times." He took it. "I'm seeing you, most of the house but her, and I'm seeing Dauella's mentor on here too. Yeah, him." He nodded. "Please. Yeah, spread it around. You do?" He marked a name. "Thanks. Yeah, we know a few biologists are missing."
"The DC office is finding them," Don called.
"The DC office of the FBI is finding them. I'm at my brother's office. Sure. We're here if you need us, Darren. Thanks." He hung up. "One other missing one." He finished writing down her name then marked some of the names off. "They're warned."
"I can't find Herman," Larry said, putting a star beside his. He moved onto his next target. Amita got a few of the ones she knew by email to warn them. Millie sat down at a free desk to call the ones she knew too. They ended up with seven names of missing people in their fields and a few associated ones. Amita added the last one when her friend, who was always online, didn't answer back. She put a question mark next to her but it was likely in her mind. Don looked at her.
"She's always online. Even during classes she's online. She's the sort to answer an email the minute it gets in. If it's been over an hour, she's not there."
He nodded, writing that down. "What fields, guys?" They wrote down their fields and specialities so he called Fornell. "Hey, it's Epps in LA's office. Thanks to the list I talked to my brother and some of his coworkers. Yeah, heard that from Megan. She's dealing with them with David at the moment. We came up with seven probably missing scientists that they know and contacted the rest of the list. I can do that." He hung up and faxed it to the number he gave him. "Let's hope we can find them soon."
"You will," Charlie promised. "We'll get the bastards who sold them to break." That got a nod and Don went to help Megan so he could wear out some stress. Charlie grinned at his dad. "Lunch?"
"That's what I came for." They headed for the break room with the other scientists. Though Amita did get pulled over to one desk to help another team with their current issue. She had ways of making information make sense without being highbrow and lecturing like Charlie did.
to part 55: