Note: Few years have passed since part 2
Gibbs sat down at the meeting table with the other heads of the local teams, looking around. "This does not look good," he muttered. The agent next to him gave him a look. "It can't be anything we've done. McGee's got a broken leg and has for the last three weeks and DiNozzo's got a concussion again."
"You're partially right, Jethro, it's not a *current* issue, it's a current problem." The director stood up. "Since we're all here, let's just get to the point. The other investigative agencies and the intelligence agencies have an advisory panel, which periodically spouts off recommendations. Most of them have been implemented. A few haven't, a few were tried and then found to be unworthy." She looked at Gibbs, that's why two of his team were injured. "They are sorry about that."
"Good, they can help McGee itch." He leaned back. "What crap did they spout now?"
"All old files, back thirty years, are to be computerized." Everyone stared at her. "Within a month was the implementation date decided on." That got harsher stares. "I pointed out we have approximately five thousand cases that are in the filing cabinets downstairs. That you can't put all the evidence into the computer, only reports and pictures. I argued about this, as did some of the FBI's people. Who also pointed out that anyone arrested already had a file in the computer along with the major points of the case. Their answer was 'it'll help us track down leads' and the politically appointed people who got their jobs by kissing asses decided it was still a good idea. So we have a month."
"There's seven-thousands-eight-five cases down there," Gibbs complained. She gave him an odd look. "Morrow made some of us who were injured produce an index. DiNozzo typed while myself and Cremnts yelled out names and file numbers. I remember very well it took us a month and a half to do that. How are we supposed to input everything and who's taking over our case load?"
"This is on top of the case load," she said flatly. "I don't like it either but I'm told I can offer you overtime and any help I can from the secretarial pool. There's six people down there with clearance to get into the files and input records. There's ten teams." They all groaned. "I only have the budget to hire two more since they'd have overtime too." She looked at Jethro and he growled. "Hannah can help your team. She's long ago passed a background check and has a security clearance now that she's over fifteen. You have two injured members, I suggest you start with them since McGee's designing the database for the update next year."
"Crap," he muttered, sinking down more as he thought. "What about Matt?"
"If you can get him past a background and cleared, yes. They can arrange however with the school."
"Tony was complaining about the mandatory community service requirements because he'd have to go with her. Especially after that feint in her direction last month." She nodded at that. "A month?"
"A month. The FBI has some of theirs on defunct systems and programs. They're going to have to revive them and switch them over. Some that far back are on paper still. Start with the newer ones and work back."
"Start by teams," one of them suggested. "Some of our teams don't have the workload Jethro's does. If we get done early, we can hand on our secretarial support. Most of my guys can barely type, Director."
"I know. Gibbs gets secretarial support last since he's got the two injured members on desk duty and Hannah. That should help them as much as a secretary would your team. Again, I don't like this idea. I can see going back ten years. Maybe fifteen. That might still have some relevance. Thirty is a bit much to me." She sipped her coffee. "Any other issues we can see?"
"What's the cap on overtime?" one lead asked.
"None. If we go over, I'm going to whine to the president and have him pay for it. He supported the idea and moved it from twenty to thirty." Gibbs sighed. "At least he's on his way out, Jethro."
"Thankfully," he muttered. "Any other edicts?"
"Not yet. Try to remember to sleep too. I'll want weekly updates on what's in the system."
"You might want to check with computer services, make sure we've got the space to store them," one of the team leads offered. "They recently had to upgrade that but I'm not sure they planned for that much space. They said they only planned for two years and Gibbs' team notwithstanding, we only handle two hundred cases a year out of this office."
"So, just the filing cabinets?" Gibbs demanded. She nodded. "Well, that doesn't give us more than that room but maybe someone can use it to put the new hard drives or whatever." He sipped his coffee. "I'll get McGee onto the space issue." She smiled at that. "Anything else?"
"Abby's got her own to input, as does Ducky," she said bitterly. "I'll give him a helper all his own to do that. His assistant can't hardly type. He's been asking for a new morgue assistant and perhaps they can learn something from this." That got mass nods and some grimaces. "I'm sorry. This was not my idea."
"We know who to blame," Gibbs assured her. "Are they bringing up the filing cabinets?"
"I'm not sure. Figure that out however. Last I knew they were alphabetical." She shrugged. "We might want to keep the paper copies for a while as well."
"We have that unused room upstairs, we can put it up there," Gibbs reminded her. "Just board up the pigeon hole." She nodded, smirking slightly. "Or go connive us some storage space somewhere else in the shipyard." He stood up. "Let me get with McGee and brief them." He headed down to his row, looking at his team. "Meeting." He grimaced, looking at McGee. "Right after this, you're talking to computer services." He looked at the others as they came over. "A new idea has been implemented by the intelligence and investigative support board." Tony moaned, rubbing his head. "It's going to make it ache. We are to put the last thirty years of cases into the database." McGee choked at that. "In a month." Tony choked. "If you can arrange it, Hannah and Matt can come in, maybe even do their community service hours. He's got to pass a background check." He looked at them. "The only good news is that we'll get overtime for this. There's seven-thousand-eight-five files down there. We're talking about doing it by team since we'd be more familiar with our own stuff. Ducky's doing anything in his area that's not in the main files. Abby's doing hers. Since we have two injured members on desk duty and Hannah, and possibly Matt, we don't get secretarial support."
"Bet me," Tony said bitterly. "One or two, boss?"
"Leave that off until we see how many are ours to do." He looked at McGee. "They did how much of a space upgrade?"
"Enough for another three hundred cases." He called down there, putting his forehead into the palm of his hand, his elbow on his desk. "It's Tim McGee. Get me Pertra? Yeah, it's vitally important. We're putting the filing room onto the computers." He smiled as the secretary yelled that across the office, hearing the swearing going on. "Pauline, it's Tim. She got it from on high. The advisory board said within a month we've got to have the last thirty years on the database. Yeah, well, Gibbs told me to check with you." He snorted. "You think?" he asked dryly. He looked up. "Boss, she said there's no way without a major upgrade to the computers and storage areas."
"Tell her to bring all that up to the director *today*," he ordered. "She tried to get us cut down to ten years. The president moved it from twenty to thirty." Tony muttered something in Italian and went back to his desk. "She tried, DiNozzo."
"Yeah. I'm sure the others are in a blind panic too. How far back are already on the system?"
"Eight years on the present system. The outdated stuff holds another ten," McGee offered. "There's an even more outdated system back from the mainframe. They're tape and that's maybe got another ten if it's not degraded," Tim told him. "Pauline said so. We might just have to integrate."
Gibbs shook his head. "All those files aren't on any system. I vaguely remember the last system. We quit using it after a while. The only thing on it were felonies."
Tony called his daughter's school. "Headmistress, it's Hannah's father, Tony DiNozzo. We're in a bit of a crunch. They want us to put all our back files on computer and we need to borrow Hannah. Can she use that for her community service hours? We may be able to use Matt as well but they've got to do a background on him. Yes, I'm serious. Thirty years of stuff." He smiled. "I would say it was helping the intelligence and investigative communities and both have talked about working with us. Well, Matt still wants to be a physician but he's thinking about going ME instead of regular doctor. Hannah's thinking about going to the FBI. It would help them immensely. I know she's fifteen. No, we have just under eight thousand files to be uploaded. They can easily get them here, ma'am. Sure, let me give you her number." He recited it. "That's her office number and her secretary has orders to put you through. Thank you, Headmistress." He hung up and put his head down. "She doesn't see how it'd help the community. I don't mind her doing Habitat for Humanity and things. I like that program, but I can't go work with her at this moment. She can do that this summer." Gibbs patted him on the head. "I know, I'm being a drama queen again."
"You are." Tony looked up at him. "But it's for a good reason. Even I wanted to throw a fit. I remember the last time we worked down there." He went to his desk to write his boss an email.
She came out onto the walkway. "We're not talking about the tape drive and things. Someone is going to try to convert those. The filing room is in addition to the conversion project. Unfortunately. The offer to Hannah DiNozzo is offered to any other teenage child of an agent who was thinking about coming in and who can pass a background check." She looked down at Gibbs. "Is there another storage area? I heard there might be."
He shrugged. "I wouldn't know, Director. Call Morrow and ask."
"I've got a call into his office. He's already scowling over the upload over there." She looked at everyone else. "I'm definitely sorry about this, people."
"Ma'am, some of us have to go home fairly early at night," one woman noted. "I'm a single mother now. I have to be there, my child's only four."
"The choice then becomes your boss finding you a way to help from home or you can bring her in for a few hours each night and have her in the conference room or something," she said more kindly. "You're not the only single parent in the building." That got a nod. "I have no idea how we'd monitor the children but we'll let the parents figure that out." That got some nods. "I want all the issues to be sent to me by tonight."
"Hannah's school is calling soon," Tony called up, looking up at her. "There's a few others who have asked me what I do for a living. She wants to go over the community service aspect."
"Gladly." She went back to her office to arrange that. She called her personally. "Headmistress, this is Jennifer Sheppard, the director at NCIS. I'm told you talked to my agent, Tony DiNozzo, about our current project?"
Hannah walked up to her uncle later that afternoon, clearing her throat delicately. Her uncle, the SecNav, smiled at her and finished up with the person he was talking with. "Uncle Evan, I know you've heard about the new project going on at daddy's work," she said calmly and quietly. He nodded. She walked him off. "If *I* hired a few extra secretaries with proper authority to do the work, would that be all right?"
"It would. I'm sure your father's thought of that." She nodded. "Did you get your hours cleared?" She nodded again. "The sixteen hours will go relatively quickly."
"I'll have limp wrists by then. Give me a case and a background to run any day," she complained. "Matt's not thrilled either but he agreed he could help Uncle Ducky. How many does she have?"
"Eight." She moaned. "They've also got to move files to a new storage system when it comes in. They're arranging now to come in this weekend."
"They can't. I need my father this weekend. There's some things we've got to do." He gave her a gentle smile. "I'm finally finished with puberty and all the attendant issues," she offered quietly, glancing around, "and people are starting to wonder about my entrance into polite society. Which means I've got to visit one of the local matrons to talk to her about the problems I'll have with that. I've picked out who I want to mentor me and she's agreed to see me Saturday afternoon. To do that, I'd *have* to bring Father. She'd expect that instead of a guard."
"I understand. Tell Jethro that, Hannah. He can work out some way to deal with that." He smoothed her hair off her cheek. "You've become a stunning young woman, Hannah DiNozzo. For now, help where and when you can. Be a bit understanding. Your father loathes paperwork days." She smirked at that and gave him a wry look. "Help where you can. I can give you the name of the agency I use when I need a temporary helper. They've got people in all security ratings. I know to input the records they've got to have the same one as Ziva." She nodded, understanding that. "Anything else I can help with?"
"It is acceptable if I hire them, outside her budget?"
"Of course. She'd have to *agree* but I think she'd probably hug you for it as long as they did the work well." She nodded, smiling at him. "Any other issues?"
"Must I wear *white*? I look horrible in white."
"I know, dear, but try." She nodded, heading off after giving him a gentle hug. He smiled at his assistant. "She's hiring her father a secretary."
"To chase around the desk?" she teased.
"No, to help with the upload."
"Oh, don't remind me. Does she need the name of the agency?" He nodded. "I'll make sure of what rating is needed." She made a note and went to do that for him.
Hannah walked into the unit with a tray of coffees, handing everyone theirs, then she pulled her Uncle Jethro up and to the elevator, stranding him like he used for serious talks. "This weekend I've got to deal with a social issue, Uncle Jethro. I'm expected to join polite society and I'm meeting my mentor this weekend, Saturday afternoon. It's expected I'll have Dad with me."
He grimaced. "You can't put it off?"
"And piss the woman off? That would seriously screw with my reputation and in that world it is everything."
"Okay. I don't know much about that."
"Father hates it." She shrugged, leaning against the wall to look at him. "Also, I'm hiring you at least a secretary. Dad and paperwork is a bad combination and I'm sure Uncle Tim is going to be busy in computer services as much as his cast allows. That leaves you short. Matt's agreed to come help Uncle Ducky with his portion and I'll help you when I can, but I've got to do this. I'll make sure she knows I'm working on a project here for my community service hours as a favor for the director, and that I'm going to be doing some more charity work this summer, but that I will have some longer hours upcoming."
"Thank you. What does she need to go over with you?"
"Interview. I've chosen her as my mentor, what my mother would normally do, but she doesn't have to take me in. She'll be interviewing me to see what I want out of this and all that stuff. Then she'll be making plans for shopping and that stuff. I'll have teas and luncheons, and then a few more charity events at night for the next few years."
"Okay. Your father...."
"Is going to hate it, but it's expected and it would have some benefits, even if I do go to the Academy and follow under Uncle Tobias. Which I do fully plan to do, but it can still be of benefit and we talked about that already. The last to know this time is actually dad." He grimaced at that. "He knew it was coming. He's hinted."
"That's fine then. As long as he's got a clue. I wouldn't mind the secretary. Let her know there's going to be a hell of a lot of work, no shirking. You and Matt can help whenever you can. As for this summer, we're going to talk about that as a family, Hannah. With that feint last month toward threatening you, I'm not sure you can go alone. Your father's very worried. He said he'd be more than happy if you did the hours with Habitat for Humanity with Abby and Tim, but that you had to be working on the same team as them. He wanted you guarded."
"Agreed, and I don't like the idea of having a bodyguard." She gave him a small smile. "I'm sorry I snarled at you last week."
"Girls have those moods, even Abby," he said wisely. He restarted the elevator and got them up to the director's office, walking her inside. "Jen?"
She smiled at Hannah. "I know it's not what you and Matt wanted to do."
"Matt's already talked to Uncle Ducky, he's going to help him. Myself and the secretary I'm going to hire are going to help dad. Paperwork and he are a *bad* combination. You'll have Uncle Tim down in computer services for the next two weeks as well." She nodded that was true. "I will furnish my father's team a helper and at least one or two others as long as that's all right."
"I'd hug you but you'd call me mushy," she promised.
"That's fine. I still need dad this weekend. I've chosen my mentor for my society entrance and she wants to interview me this weekend."
"Are you sure it'd be of use to you? You don't usually plan on going that high up."
"Uncle Tobias and I have discussed it a few times and he said I'd be going to the charity events anyway. He said it could be of use during some cases. He's the one who got me the current Listings to see who I wanted. Someone unconnected to my former family." That got a wise nod. "She'll expect dad there with me however."
"That's fine. If Jethro can spare him. They're off call this weekend."
"I know, that's why I did that. I need to know the exact ratings and above needed. I've gotten the recommendation from Uncle Evan."
"That's fine." She handed it over. "They need at least that for their background check and that sort of rating." She smiled at her. "Hopefully one of them will live up to Gibbs' standards."
"If so, I might think about making her part time permanently to handle their paperwork since he's got more important things to do," Hannah admitted, earning a smirk from her stepfather. "Thank you, Jen." She got up and walked Jethro back down. "Father, need your desk phone." He pushed it over, finishing up the one he was working on. She called there, talking quietly with them. That got her some help coming. She hung up twenty minutes later. "They've got four free assistants who meet the criteria set. You get first pick." Gibbs smirked at that. She looked at her father. "I'm meeting my mentor Saturday at two."
He looked at her. "Already? You're only fifteen."
"Which gives us time to arrange things for just after my next birthday in seven months. She'll expect to question you too. It's the interview."
"Of course. When?"
"Two. Saturday. I've already cleared it with Uncle Jethro."
He nodded, making note of that. "Remind me Saturday morning. We'll take the afternoon off so we're presentable." She smiled at that.
Hannah looked at Gibbs. "Why doesn't she just assign the secretarial pool to do it?"
"It's got to be signed off by agents," he admitted. "Each team lead's got to finalize each team's file."
"That sounds rather boring." She sat down. "What can I do to help since I'm here?"
"Go over computer specs with McGee so you know the system," Gibbs ordered. She nodded, going over to help him with his current inputting case. "Matt's already talking with Ducky?"
"He drove." She smiled at her father. "I'll be doing that next year, correct?"
He looked at her and snorted. "Only if your chemistry grade comes up and someone gives you driving lessons."
"I'm signed up for driver's ed next semester and I got a B today on my test," she offered sweetly, smirking at him. He grinned back. "Better?"
"Yes, dad." She got back to work helping him.
Jethro saw the stare. "Don't look at me, I'm not giving driving lessons. Let Fornell, that way she gets defensive driving."
"He told me to tell you his blood pressure is already too high and he thinks I'll be nervous," Hannah offered, smirking at him. "He did suggest you or Daddy."
"Thank you for not saying me," McGee said, giving her a hug.
She patted him on the hand. "That's okay, when I have to start picking out dresses, you're coming with me because you suck at hiding your reactions to prettiness. That way I look more than cute and less than hot and slutty."
He blushed and nodded. "Sure." He ducked his head and got back to work.
Tony looked over at her. "Hot and slutty thou had better not be, daughter. Or else the wrath of the permanently welded shut chastity belt shall be yours."
"Yes, daddy. Not like I'm really dating," she shot back, looking at him. "You know, some day, you shall be a grandfather." Then she smiled sweetly. "I could be like Melody and have one already."
"You even think about it and I'm paddling you," Jethro assured her.
"I haven't even really dated!" she complained. "You guys are worse than some Turkish jailers!" They laughed and smiled at each other, happy with that description.
McGee leaned over. "Remember, you've got to introduce the boys to them within a few days, not necessarily on the first one," he offered quietly.
"Oh yes I do. Uncle Jethro yanked the last one up in handcuffs when I tried that."
He patted her on the back. "Maybe you should date Matt."
"He's the guy I go to when I need to talk about girl things. No. Ick. No, no, no. Then I wouldn't have a friend, I'd have an ex."
"Point," he admitted, getting back to work.
Hannah smiled at the matron who was interviewing her and her daughter, who was slightly older than herself. "Thank you for meeting with us."
"It's an offer some of us had expected sometime this year, child. Tea?"
"No, thank you, Tony offered. "I had some with lunch. I'm maxed out on caffeine for the moment." He smiled at her, then at his daughter.
"I'd love a cup. Thank you." She took her cup and fixed it properly, then got comfortable on the couch, crossing her legs properly at the ankle. "I know it's a bit awkward."
"Yes, dear, but your own mother is dead," the matron noted.
"Not true," Hannah admitted. "Grandfather paid her to have me," she admitted, taking a sip of tea. "She's in Italy with her new family and wants to ignore I exist. I wrote her when I was eleven and she said it's nice I got free but she's got her own family now." The matron nodded at that. "So I have no contact with her and only a father for a relative, and one aunt I can't stand." She looked at her father, who shrugged, so she looked at her again. "I'm going to be an FBI agent. The Uncle I'm going to be interning under during college agreed that I should join polite society, that I'd be doing the charity events I cared about anyway, and that it could help my career, but I'm not looking to be the society girls like some daughters are. I'm sure your own daughter has more planned than a spouse and a camera in her delivery room."
"Definitely. I'm going to Georgetown next year," she admitted with a smile. "You?"
"I'm only fifteen. I'm looking at Georgetown and a few others. I don't want to leave the region. I help dad's team now and then and Uncle Tobias. Plus I'll still need to be closer if something happens."
"Also, there's the issue that her aunt threatened her last month," Tony offered. "Sent a death threat. We're not sure if she's mentally stable. Her sister got early Alzheimers. My mother died during the will being probated." That got a nod from the matron. "We think she's going that way as well. Also, I may be hiring my daughter a true bodyguard for when she goes into the public eye. Due to my caseload and the demands of my agency, I can't always be at the charity events she wants to go to. Right now she's giving up on some hours with Habitat for Humanity to do her community service in the office because I can't."
"It's a reasonable worry," the matron agreed. "What were you planning on majoring in?"
"Right now, computers. I'm good at the humanities, and I'm still very good at the business stuff, but I don't want to major in them. I like computers and they're useful where I want to go. I'll probably end up designing my own or doing something like a Regent's and taking what I need to be a great agent within the FBI." She took another sip of her tea.
The daughter smiled. "How is your beauty regimen going, Hannah?"
"Besides the occasional haircut and stuff for acne, I'm doing okay. I don't have to do anything too harsh right now. We're blessed with good skin but I've got acne on my back at the moment. It's truly dreadful stuff. Hard to get to as well."
"I got you that new spa brush you wanted," Tony offered. "That should help you with that medicated scrub."
"Thanks, dad." She smiled at them. "My hairdresser thinks I'm going to go a bit longer when I enter society, give me more hairstyling options. He's the one who's done my hair for most everything so far." The matron smiled at that. "He's an old friend of my father's from his days at Ohio State."
"I heard he went to a few colleges," the matron admitted, making Tony smirk. "I know you do some limited charity events."
"The ones I care about," he agreed. "I didn't ever want to join fully. Polite society is great, but it's not my thing. I get easily bored talking about the same thing every single week with the same people. Since I can't talk about my cases without upsetting someone, I can't find much else to chatter about."
The matron smiled. "At least you're honest."
"I have been since I didn't 'come out' as a seventeen-year-old. My mother was horribly disappointed but my father thought that was more for girls. He was trying to set me up with a woman at that time."
"I understand how he worked, young man. We heard about your fit on the princess."
"I wasn't about to be hooked on heroin for anyone," he assured her dryly, making her chuckle. He gave Hannah a squeeze. "I know she's got the pedigree and it's more expected since she's female. You would have my full support and she's roped people into giving her opinions on her clothes, but it's not going to be something I'm going to be heavily involved in. I'll be the doting father who smiles and reminds her that I'll weld the chastity belt on her and to put on a wrap because the dress is too showy. I definitely do not want her being too showy."
"Also, I should offer that Abby's bringing me to the Solstice Ball this year," Hannah offered. The matron blinked at that. She smiled. "She's my might-as-well-be stepmother. She's a bit goth herself and I'm going with her. I have a wonderful black velvet ballgown to go in. I prefer the darker colors, but not the full gothic look. I could never wear some of the outfits she does, especially not the uniform skirts. I hate ours." Her father squeezed her gently.
"Where are you going right now?" the daughter asked.
"St. Augustine's. It's a day school with a boarding option if necessary for when they have to go out of town on a case. I've got some other society girls in my year. Mostly brats to be honest. I'm going to school with Mylander's little sister." The matron shuddered at that. "Exactly. She's been begging recently for me to use my contacts to get her boyfriend a job." She finished her tea and put the cup down. "I don't want to be one of the girls who live in the limelight. I could but I don't want that. I want a career and all the attendant problems. I want people to congratulate me on the work I do, not how pretty I look on any given day. The same as I have two cats, I don't need a little dog in a purse." The matron giggled at that. "I could play at that level but I don't desire it. I'm more than happy to be a side of the bigger scene. I have my charities and I'll go to them and the more important social events."
"That's very wise of you, dear. The season never ends in this city," the matron agreed wisely, smiling at her. "Did you bring any pictures with you?" Hannah dug them out of her purse, handing them over. She flipped through her past outfits at events. "You do show some very good taste."
"I still don't like that bronze dress or the one with the red stripes," Tony offered. "The bronze one made her look much too old for thirteen and the red stripes was just odd."
"It was, but it did look good on her," the daughter admitted, looking at them. "You were thirteen in that bronze dress?" Hannah smiled and nodded. "No wonder he worries."
"He'd worry no matter what," Hannah assured her dryly. "He's a worrywart. He's also a former playboy outside the restrictions of polite society. He knows how bad boys are for girls." The women laughed at that. "Seriously. Until he got with Uncle Jethro and Aunt Abby, it was one woman after another every week." She looked at him. "I still want a sibling, father."
"Talk to Abby," he sighed. "She and Jethro have decided they're waiting a few more years." She pouted. "I've love nothing more than to give Abby a baby vampire to love, but that's between them."
"Fine," she sighed, shaking her head. The matron smiled at her. "I used to have two older siblings but my grandfather somehow managed to have them killed subtly for daring to defy his rules and start to follow down Dad's path of rebellion and self-will. I'm lucky I managed to run away." They nodded at that. "So I still want a sibling, they're not cooperating at this time however." The matron nodded wisely, smirking at her. "It's the only demand I've ever made. I want a sibling, preferably before I graduate St. Augie's." She shrugged. Then she grinned. "I think Aunt Abby would be a spectacular mother."
"She would," Tony agreed. "She said not yet, Hannah. Give her another year and then nag again."
"Yes, dad." She patted his knee. Then she smiled at them. "I don't want to live off my credentials. Family like mine is irrelevant except as gossip fodder. I'm not going into the business world so it's mainly a moot point."
The matron nodded. "I can see that, dear." She handed back the pictures. "When would you be available for some style shopping?"
"Any weekend, but I'm spending a lot of hours helping dad. Their office just got told to put all their files for the past thirty years on the computer system." They both hissed. "Exactly. That's my community service hours for school. This summer I'm doing some work with Habitat and at the local pound. Plus with a literacy program at the library closest to my house if they agree. That way I'm not bored. I'm easily bored. It's a family thing apparently."
The matron smiled. "They're good charities for a young woman such as yourself to go to. It proves you're not going to be idly rich and you wish to make a difference but it's nothing that would get you looked at for strong viewpoints. We can work that in. Now, do you have any other adults in the local society circles?"
"Do Doctor Mallard and the SecNav count?"
"Well, yes," she admitted. "I know Ducky, he's a charming old man," she agreed happily. "You know him?"
"We work with Ducky," Tony told her with a smile. "He's our ME. I'm on Gibbs' team."
"Ah, then *you're* that Anthony," the daughter said happily. "He's talked about you a lot recently. Told all sorts of stories about you getting into trouble at work and making things go smoother with humor."
"Yeah, I'm good at that. I just wish the people would quit hitting me in the head," he complained with a goofy grin. "I hate concussions."
"You and me both. I keep getting woken up when Uncle Jethro wakes you," Hannah assured him, patting him on the hand. She looked at the matron again. "Again, last week." She nodded, accepting that. "I also casually know a great many other members thanks to my grandfather. Uncle Evan kept most of them from pestering me, his words, to get things. Including Uncle George. Though I did get a call," she said, looking at her father. "He invited me to the Republican Convention?"
"Okay. I told him I'd have to ask, but I was still learning about the political system so I didn't want to pick a side yet." He nodded that was a good idea. "Thank you, dad."
"I'm not that happy with him at the moment. It was his idea to move from twenty years to thirty."
"I'll pout at him for making you work such long hours," she soothed, patting him on the knee again. "I hired their team an assistant," she noted, getting some giggles from the daughter. "Seriously. That's just over seven thousand files to be input by the end of a month from last Tuesday." The matron shuddered. "Their team does a lot more work than others. He hasn't made it home before midnight in days."
"That can happen when sudden projects come up," the matron agreed, smiling at her. "Are you currently seeing anyone, even casually?"
"No, I have a male friend I can complain about girl things to, but we're friends. Dad and Uncle Jethro scare of most of the boys so I don't get many second dates." The daughter giggled at that. "I tried to avoid them meeting one until after the first date. Uncle Jethro came down to get him with his handcuffs so they could meet him. They're highly overprotective of me."
"For a very good reason. You're only fifteen," Tony reminded her.
"I know." She looked at the matron. "Like I said, he's a worrywart."
"Probably with good reason. It's so easy for a young girl to be taken in by the wrong sort," the matron agreed primly. "If you do, you must tell me so we can either teach you how to hide it or to use it to your advantage."
"Of course. I will note I'm not picky. I have dated a few biracial boys." The matron nodded. "I won't hide that I'm very open minded."
"That's fine, dear. It's not unheard of," she admitted. "Do you listen to rap?"
"No, I'm more a pop person with some classical music." She shifted, crossing her legs the other way. "I learned how to play the piano and I keep it up casually with another resident in our building."
"Do you live somewhere fashionable?" the daughter asked.
"No, we're pretending to live on dad's salary. We've spread around that my inheritance is in an iron clad trust. As is his. His until he marries, mine until I'm thirty and gainfully employed. Whichever comes first." That got a smirk for Tony.
"It helped keep it down at school," Tony assured her. "She started out with students and teachers who wanted her help to get people jobs and defense contracts. It was stressing her out. She didn't need it. It is held in trust, just a looser interpretation of it."
"That's fine," the matron agreed. "Thank you, Hannah. How does next weekend look for you?"
"For me, it's wonderful," she agreed happily. "I have a hair appointment that morning."
"Who do you go to?" the matron asked.
"His name's Bryon. He's down on K street," she offered, pulling out his card. "He's very gay, I usually give that warning when I refer anyone to him." That got a smile. "He's a very old family friend and he's known me since I got here. He keeps me from chewing on the ends when I'm stressed out."
"That's always a good thing," the daughter agreed. "Do you have a formal this year?"
"The Winter Ball is all years," she agreed. "I'm wearing a pale cream and green dress to it. Fairly slim and straight with a wide scoop neckline and long lace sleeves." She dug into her purse, coming up with that picture. "That's my dress for the winter ball. I still need to decide on shoes. I'm not sure if I want to wear two inch heels or not, if not I need it hemmed." Her father gave her a squeeze. "I've agreed to take one of the boys I took out before. He's a very nice young man, named Thadius."
"Is he black?" the matron asked.
"Half. Half Japanese. He's an excellent soccer player and I'm teaching him about polo."
Both women smiled at that. "He sounds delightful. Does he know which colors you're wearing?"
"He does. He's going in classic black without the cummerbund." That got a smile. "His family's the DeMagristas?"
"I know them," the daughter admitted, looking at her mother. "They were the ones talking to Lisa and Denver's parents about their daughter's school," she reminded her.
"Oh, them," she agreed, smiling. "They were a handsome couple. If I remember right, his father is blind?" Hannah nodded. "I see. He's probably a very good date choice. I remember they were very polite but new to the area so being cautious about their interactions."
"They are," she agreed. "He just moved in last month really. He's the one Uncle Jethro pulled up in handcuffs." Tony snickered lightly at that. "He was."
"He was very nice and polite. Had no idea who you were except someone who was doing worse in Trig than he was."
"True," Hannah agreed. "I especially like that about him." She smiled at her mentor. "Should I look for a lace shawl with that dress? I couldn't decide."
"I wouldn't," she admitted, handing the picture back. "What jewels are you wearing?"
"We have restrictions on that. I'm wearing my hair up, probably in a reverse french braid, then the ends would be put up in small curls on my head or curled and allowed to cascade down. I'm wearing my emerald and opal earrings and the matching necklace. It's a small drop style with a silver chain. Plus my silver dress watch."
"Opals in december?"
"It goes very well with the dress," Hannah assured her. "I found the dress with them in mind. I'm not superstitious about what I wear."
"That's excellent, dear." The matron smiled. "You did look charming in that."
"I'm hoping I put back on the five pounds I lost a few months back so I fill it out just a tiny bit better," Hannah admitted. "I had a raging case of the flu and lost about ten pounds I couldn't afford."
"That happens. When I got the plague I lost about forty," Tony admitted. "Took me nearly a year to gain it back and be at the same point in my conditioning." She smiled at him. "I was okay after a few weeks but not back as fully as I could have been."
"You went back to work too early," Hannah assured him. "Even Uncle Jethro said so, daddy." He nodded that was true. "Got tired of talk shows?"
"Definitely." The girls giggled at that. "I got exposed thanks to a malicious case. It's a rare event."
"I saw it in the paper," the matron agreed, smiling at him. "I can assure you I'll make her tasteful and look her age instead of my daughter's. I run a very tight ship with my mentorees. She'll probably complain about her year with me."
Tony nodded. "I figure that happens with all of them, but better some leash training now instead of a social mistake that could brand her for life," he agreed. She looked up at him. "Something like what that one girl in LA keeps doing."
"I'd never do that, nor will I appear drunk in public without underwear, as that whole group is so want to do." He smiled at that. "I have taste."
"You do," he agreed. "I'm counting on your good taste, Hannah." She nodded, accepting that. He smiled at the matron. "Thank you."
"Not a problem. I should probably go with you to your hair appointment. Are you getting it trimmed?"
"I am. Bryon thinks I should let it grow about three more inches so I have enough for more styling capabilities. We talked about that. His skincare person, Miss Devine, helped me find that first dress and a few others. She's the one who took me bra shopping."
"Is she a drag queen?" the daughter asked. Hannah nodded. "Ah, then you've got people with style and theatrics behind you."
"Oh, I do. Daddy knows drama as well," she assured her dryly, making her giggle and swat at her. "He uses it now and then on the job." She looked at the matron. "You're more than welcome to come with me, ma'am. Then some light shopping?" That got a smile and a nod. "Thank you."
"You're very welcome, Hannah. Your situation isn't uncommon. We see some girls who can't decide between their mothers and stepmothers doing the same thing. I'd be more than happy to mentor you as deep into the society pool as you want to go."
"Thank you." She shook her hand. "Any particular time I should have a car come pick you up?"
"I'll have my driver come get you, dear. When is your appointment again?"
"Ten. He's doing me early in case I was going to bring you in. That way you didn't have to deal with the charity drag show needs later in the afternoon when he was doing wigs for the other Queens."
"Thank you for that kindness. Are you attending?"
"The whole family is this year," she agreed happily. "They're extended family to us and Daddy's friends. Miss Devine is MC-ing this year."
"She is?" Tony asked. "I thought she was performing."
"She is, but not for the prize. She's pulling a Whoopi."
"Ah. Great. Jethro likes it when she does that." He gave her a hug. "Go for lower heels, your feet still hurt when you wear the two inch ones."
"Yes, dad. Inch and a half?"
"Should be fine. Appropriate for a girl your age." He looked at the matron, who nodded.
"Not very adventurous. Most girls slightly older would go for the higher heels but if they're bothering her I definitely wouldn't go any higher."
"It's not my feet, it's my ankles," Hannah admitted. "I was thinking about getting some ankle boots, maybe like the older style granny boots for my shoes. They usually have pointed toes and look adorable. That would give me ankle support and be a bit more solid than some strappy sandals or even pumps."
"I can see that with that dress," the matron admitted. "I'd have to see them together and it on you." Hannah nodded at that. "We'll go over that next Saturday as well. When is your birthday?"
"Right after the FBI Director's inauguration," Hannah admitted. "Not this upcoming one but the one after his. He's ill and we're projecting he'll be dying within four months."
"September," Tony told them. "Early September."
"The Rochefort ball is right on the sixteenth," her daughter admitted. "Would that be a good spot for her to formally announce her presence, mother?"
"It could be. I know she's a grand dame of society around here but she doesn't usually like to be upstaged."
"Elizabeth?" Hannah asked. "Or Melly?"
"Melly," the mother agreed. "You know her?"
"Through Uncle Evan. Would it be appropriate to show up quietly and make a subtle statement?"
"It would," the matron agreed happily. "That would also make people wonder and ask who you are. I should check with her first but I don't see a problem with that idea. The one after that is the Children's Hospital Dinner. It's about two weeks later."
"She and I go to that every year," Tony agreed. "That, two military ones, and one AIDS one."
She nodded. "I've seen you at that one and one of the military ones, I don't go to the others personally. I donate quietly to the AIDS charities." He nodded, accepting that. "Do you not plan on introducing your lovers?"
"They don't want to go. Jethro's not comfortable in it and Abby thinks they won't accept her because she is so goth."
"Ah. Make sure they can both go to that dinner if we're going to go ahead with this plan," she ordered. "That way we've got extra people there to answer questions."
"I'll do my best," he agreed. She smiled at that. "Jethro's a bit stubborn."
"So Ducky's said," the daughter agreed with a smile. "Finally I'll have someone to shop with."
"I don't shop all that often but sure," Hannah agreed happily. "I try very hard not to shop all that often. It's not my favorite activity."
"She's more into her riding and piano lessons plus her video games," Tony offered dryly, shrugging a bit. "She and Matt hang out most every afternoon."
"That's fine. We'll have to do some and I'm sure we can work out when to go."
"I'll pull out my cycle calendar. I'm a total grump during it." Tony nodded quickly at that. "Sorry, but truth."
"Some women are," the matron agreed. "We'll keep that in mind for important events."
"Thank you." She got up and hugged her. She got patted on the back. "I should get him back to work with lunch for the poor, tired typists."
"Of course, dear. I'll see you next Saturday morning at nine-thirty?"
"Sure." She hugged the daughter. "Then we'll do the shopping stuff." She kissed her on the cheek. "Come on, Dad."
"Coming, dear. Thank you, ladies. Now I'm sure she won't be some idly rich bored brat that you see on ET." He smiled and shook hands then walked her out to the car, letting her into it so he could drive. "Not exactly couth, daughter," he said as he slid in.
"No, but I was being honest. Better they hear it from me than a report from someone because I'm sulking."
"True." He started the engine and headed off. "We'll be talking later on, after we're done with this file crap, about your summer plans and how we'll protect you."
"Of course. Are we including Uncle Tobias?"
"If Jethro wants to." He shifted up as they pulled out of the manor's gates, heading back into town. "Work?"
"Lunch then work. I'm starved."
"Okay. I could eat." He pulled through the nearest good spot, getting them lunch and a snack for everyone else. Then they headed back to the shipyards. He pulled into the parking garage and got them out with the majority of the food, letting her get his pass for the elevator. They headed up, letting him drop the food off on Gibbs' desk.
"Am I that hungry?" he asked dryly.
"Snacks, boss. Hand them out as needed." He sat down at his desk to eat his lunch then get back to work. "She was accepted. She warned them she's a grump during her moments. They're going shopping next Saturday."
"That's fine. Should we worry about the necessity of a bigger closet?"
"Nope," Hannah said dryly. "I'm a firm believer of getting rid of the later dresses like I did the earlier ones. Wait a year then sell them to the younger girls at school or a consignment shop or give them to a charity." She ate a bite of her sandwich. "I'll be officially coming out quietly right after my birthday, then the louder one, where we're expecting you and Abby to be, will be the Children's Hospital dinner, Uncle Jethro. Plans may change but that's the beginning strategy." He opened his mouth. "It's for a good cause. I'll need more backup then. You can wear a tux and dance with Daddy all you two want."
"Fine," he agreed, shaking his head. He dug into the bags, finding his. He held one up. "McGee?" He hobbled over to grab it. "Ziva?" She got hers and went back to her desk. He called Abby. "I've got food up here for you, Ducky, and Matt." He hung up on the squeal. "We hadn't gotten out yet."
"I figured if you had, you could eat it in a few, if not, it'd be welcome," Tony noted dryly. "When are the helpers coming?"
"Monday morning," Hannah admitted. "Two are going to be working on the unclaimed files, one with you guys." She ate another bite and sipped her soda. "Did you like her, Uncle Jethro?"
"As long as she lives up to her interview, yeah," he agreed.
"Good, because you could use one part time to handle the weekly paperwork crap and proof reports so all you have to do is sign off." She ate another bite and looked at her father, then at him. "That'd leave you more open for the other stuff you do so well, like threaten people. By the way, Thadius is taking me to the Winter Ball. Let's not cuff him this time. Please?" she begged. They shrugged in a maybe fashion. She sighed and shook her head, going back to her eating. She was starved. Matt came off the elevator and she smiled. "She accepted me so next Saturday I'm unavailable. We're going *shopping*."
"Eww. Better you than me." He gathered up the other bags. "Thanks, guys. We're starved too. Ducky was actually thinking about ordering a pizza so Abby's stomach would quit grumbling." He grinned and headed back down there. He stepped off the elevator and Abby grabbed the bags, setting them down there to find hers. She took her two back to her office, leaving him with Ducky's and the first one of his. But that was okay. He could eat more later. He brought them into there. "Abby already mugged me for hers."
"She was a bit peckish," he agreed dryly. He checked the sandwiches and handed Matt his. "There you go, lad. Now, how are we doing?"
"You've got about six hundred to go, Ducky. I've got ten in."
"That's better than I was doing," he admitted. "I don't see why we can't scan them in and have them show up in the proper format."
Matt looked at him and called McGee. "Ducky and I wanted to know why we can't scan things in and make them come up together so we only have to collate." He listened, making notes as he nibbled on a fry. "That's it? Can't we write one, Tim? Hell, I'd help. Yes, me. Well, I am taking those three classes we offer this year," he offered. He grinned. "I didn't think so but I thought I'd see if we could work on it together. Well, I do have to hand in a project later this year, that would have to be a fully working program." He nodded, making notes on the ideas he got. "Thanks, Tim." He hung up. "The problem isn't scanning it, it's getting the information into the right format and having it fill in the right spots on the forms by itself. He said they talked about it but it'd take too long to write one."
"Pity. Plenty of other systems could use such a thing. Especially if it recognized doctor's scrawls on patient charts. They're going to have to start uploading their systems sooner instead of later as well."
"The problem with that idea is hackers," Matt pointed out. "Or the insurance guys finding out what you had as a child and using it to discriminate."
"That is a fear of a great many people," Ducky said wisely. "It would help to have them all in one big system but it's not practical and it would probably end up causing more problems than it's worth."
"They'd never get it all onto one system. Not unless all the hospitals were taken over by one company," Matt offered. "It'd be like operating systems. One major and a few minor systems floating around out there."
"Probably true, lad, probably true." He smiled at the stack of folders he had to input, then sighed. "Mother will be incredibly distressed if I have to work too much overtime."
"I'm more worried about the storage move that could wipe out the *current* records, the ones that don't have paper trails to go with them."
Ducky looked at him. "Don't even speculate, Matthew. Should that happen, someone will let Jethro and Anthony hunt them down and hurt them greatly." Matt grinned at that image. "Do mention it to Timothy however. Perhaps they've made a backup?" He called up there. "Timothy, it's Ducky, Matthew just had an idea. What should happen if we lose the current casefiles during the computer shift? The ones we don't have paper backups on?" His answer was a groan. "Can we back them up?" He smiled. "No, I figured if they got lost, someone would send Jethro and Anthony out to hunt them down and cause grievous bodily harm. Yes, it would be appalling to find them in bloody chunks and have to recreate another body that way. Thank you, Timothy." He hung up. "The poor boy, we keep piling work on his battered body."
"He'll start to complain if it's too much."
"I hope so."
Tim hung up the phone and looked at the computer, then wrote out that very important email. He got back a 'oh, we will be, we don't want Gibbs to destroy us and the cause' back. "That's good."
"What's good?" Tony asked.
"We're doing a fully system backup before we shift the information to the new storage hub. Just in case it gets eaten or something."
"Good," Tony agreed. "Very good. I'd hate to have to rip them apart with my bare hands."
"Knives would be easier," Gibbs offered.
"But not half as satisfying."
"Pray there's no hacker attack between then and now," Hannah offered. Tim typed that in and got back a 'we're secure, Tim. Tell the kids to quit worrying'. She came over to read and snorted. "Really? Considering our teacher proved it wasn't by hacking the CIA the other day in front of the class?"
McGee picked up the phone and called, handing her the phone. "Tell him that." He got back to work inputting codes.
"Uncle Tim told me to tell you about my teacher, who hacked the CIA in front of the computer class the other day to prove how easy it was. Yes, that was my teacher. Is he under arrest?" She smirked. "Hmm. Pity about that. I'll have to tell Matt we've got a study hall. It could easily happen. After all, he was using a slow school computer. He said yours is even less secure than theirs?" She smirked evilly. "That's what I think he put me on here for, sir. Of course." She hung up and called down to the morgue. "Uncle Ducky, have Matt call the people in computer services about how the now-arrested teacher got into the CIA's system. He was sitting closer. Thank you." She hung up and went back to her seat, then took the spare desk to help. "Why can't we scan this again?"
"It'd just be PDF files we'd have to collate and transfer format on," Tim reminded her. "It wouldn't fill out the forms, just come up as a picture."
She looked at him. "Wouldn't that be enough for them to search through?"
"No. We suggested it, they wanted it fully integrated and on the proper forms."
"Yup, that's why we're doing thirty years worth."
"No, that was Uncle George. Let me see him at the luncheon tomorrow," she muttered. Tony gave her a look. "I won't make a scene but I will complain about the hours you're having to work, maybe I can at least get an extension on the month deadline. It's not like they need it tomorrow."
"You never know when you'll need it," Gibbs said wisely. "What about the other ones on the old systems, McGee?"
"Working on it, boss. They've got a computer up with them on there so they can figure out what other forms it can be saved in. We're hoping for something nearer to our current one, or even one in the current program but an old version. We're praying very hard." He nodded, accepting that. "The tape drives are nearly destroyed though. They had a water leak near them. The other warehouse had a smoke fire last year. There might be no way to put them on. The files for those were in the other warehouse and we'll be working on them later."
"Hopefully the secretarial pool," Tony complained. "Boss, can I add onto the pool like my daughter did?"
Gibbs looked at him. "We'll probably have a case next week, we can do this in our spare time then."
"All the more reason to have three hundred people doing this stuff." He nodded at that. "Not like our systems talk to the other systems."
McGee groaned. "No, they don't," he agreed. "Ours and the FBI systems don't mesh. Ours and the CIA's don't mesh. Homeland's can get into anyone's but it's iffy if it works with ours."
"Blame the person who bought the technology," Gibbs ordered. "Less bitching, more work."
"Can I write to Morrow and just have everyone sign it?" Tony asked.
"Sure," Gibbs agreed. "I'm sure he'd love to hear from you."
"I figured it up on the way back," Hannah admitted. "On the days when you're being most productive you can get ten files fully put in. There's twenty people working on this project. That's only six thousand files by the end of the month and only if we all worked every day and got the full ten in. That's not counting the days when you're working eighteen or twenty hour days on a case." Gibbs put down his pen and looked at her. "It's a Herculean task and I'm not that strong or that blond."
"If we can get the majority in, they'll give us extra time, Hannah," he said patiently. McGee shook his head. "No?"
"No, and they've threatened to cut our budget by another ten percent if we don't get it done. For being obstinate and being part of the non-conformity issue."
Hannah pulled out her phone and walked off.
"Don't you dare!" Tony called.
"I'm calling Uncle Evan," she called back. "The JAG people can't do theirs in that time either. They've got more." She called him. "Uncle Evan. What happens if they can't get it in time?" She listened. "There's only twenty people here working on it, Uncle Evan, and we're only averaging ten cases a day. Even if we work every single day this month that's only six thousand files. We've got over seven thousand and who's going to do this when cases come in?" She listened to him think about that. "Plus, Uncle Tim just told me that they're threatening budget cuts for non-compliance. That's wrong! They gave us a task we can't complete in a time frame that's unreasonable." She listened and sighed. "I can do that," she admitted, "but Daddy would get *really* pissed at me." She sighed and nodded. "Good point. Please." She hung up, heading back. "I'm going to Uncle Evan's to see if there's a way we can speed this up some. Maybe some new secretaries or maybe putting it into another format by scanning, but then having extra time to convert." Tim handed her a sheet. "Thanks." She walked outside, going to wait on his car. It pulled up and the driver got out, letting her nod at him. She got into the back with him and the director. "Jen." She kissed her on the cheek. "My matron, Mrs. Craws, did accept me. Thank you for your assistance, both of you." She handed over the sheet. "We can scan it, but it puts it into PDF format, which means it's searchable but each page is an individual file. That would take less time. If they get any cases, the whole project is screwed, Uncle Evan."
"It is," he agreed. "From the start really." He sighed and looked over the suggestions. "McGee?" She nodded. "Do you think you can convince him?"
"I do. Our system won't talk with some of the other ones. The same as the CIA's won't. The same as the FBI's won't. The only one that talks to all ours is Homeland's and JAG only talks to the FBI's." He nodded, accepting that. "We need a long-term solution, not a short-term that's killing us."
"What would you suggest?" Jen asked.
"First, one operating system that's *truly* secure. Our computer teacher hacked into the CIA on Friday to prove they weren't secure. It took him two minutes I think. Matt told your computer guys. We're going to have to convert files anyway, taking them from PDF won't be much harder than taking them from the other formats." That got stereo nods. "We need someone with some computer sense in charge of this. And I do mean someone with hacking skills. Someone like Tim. Or at least the main agencies all get their computer geeks together," she pointed out. "There's no way in hell NCIS alone can do this. Not to mention the FBI. They've had people drop of heart attacks due to the stress already. Uncle Tobias was complaining about them when we talked last night." They pulled through a set of ornate gates. She looked at herself, then wiped off her fingers. "Sorry about the grease, we got lunch on the way back." The car stopped and she got out when the door was opened, nodding at the guard. The two adults followed her, making her smile. She smiled at the guard. "Where is my Uncle George?"
"His secretary is in her office, ma'am," he said stiffly.
She headed back that way, smiling at the people she met. "Hi, Uncle Curt," she called when one turned to stare at her. "Where's Uncle George?"
"Upstairs at home." He blinked at the people following her, going to call the Chief of Staff.
"Don't," Hannah ordered. "I need Uncle George." She walked into the office, looking at the secretary, smiling at her. "Can you please call my Uncle George? I can't remember if it's '05' or '04' for the sitting room." She looked stunned. "I'm Hannah Fletcher-DiNozzo. Now, woman." She dialed quickly, speaking into the phone. The First Lady came down and she hugged her. "Oooh, I haven't seen you in *ages*," she complained. She looked up at her, pouting. "He's being mean to my father. You know that, right?"
"He so is. That upgrade they wanted? It's impossible. Especially if they want anything else to get done and it's going to cause more problems and more expense."
"Come upstairs, Hannah. Your guards as well. Evan, Jen, how nice to see you."
Evan kissed her on the cheek. "Hannah was right to call us. The FBI have had people dropping from this." He let the ladies proceed them, looking at her. "This really was a stupid idea," he said quietly. She nodded. "You heard?"
"I did. Thirty years is too far back. Would it have relevance?"
"I was thinking ten, maybe fifteen, ma'am," Jen offered. "I got overruled."
Hannah walked into the housing section, looking at her uncle, arms crossed over her chest, foot already tapping when he looked up. "You're making it so daddy can't come home ever again. You've already caused a bunch of FBI people to drop dead according to Uncle Tobias. Besides, you're making more problems and causing more expense." He opened his mouth. She held up a hand. "Listen to me first, Uncle George. The NCIS system, the CIA system, and the FBI system don't talk. At all. They don't work together. They're also not very secure. My computer teacher hacked the CIA Friday in under two minutes." He groaned at that, putting down his book. "Unfortunately," she said, sitting beside him. "NCIS is averaging ten files a day to input. They're having to type everything in by hand. There's twenty people working on it, that's everyone at this office - that's all the agents and the secretaries. And this is just the local office, not the worldwide offices. Some of them may make it but averaging ten a day is making them work sixteen hour days. Now, that's with no new cases. As soon as they get a case, they're screwed to put it bluntly." He nodded at that. "Plus, it's not going to do what they want. It won't be searchable and switching before we upload all the files would be easier and less costly."
"I've had to put in someone who was on injury leave as a daycare attendant," Jen admitted. "We have some families that work there. Hannah and her friend Matt are doing their community service hours with us and Hannah's hired a few temporary secretaries to help. We still won't make it, sir."
He looked at Evan. "Is she right?" He handed over the paper. "That's from?"
"Special Agent McGee. On Gibbs' team with her father. He's one of our top computer people outside of computer services. She's right, sir, this is going to end up costing us in hours and frustration by the time the month is up, and we still won't be more than half done, if we're lucky and it's a quiet month for cases. NCIS's local branch has over seven thousand. Plus old systems that have to be translated over."
He considered it, looking at Hannah. "How would you suggest this be handled?"
"Get the computer geeks together," she said firmly. "Have them decide on one system, one that they can defend against hackers, even if they have to write everything themselves. Translate everything over and make it so you can scan the old stuff into it with a modified scanner. Doing it in that order and letting a secretarial pool do the uploading makes more fiscal sense. They not only make less but that's kinda their jobs," she noted. "Not like Uncle Jethro has one at his beck and call. He's still got to proofread reports after each case and upload it officially so it's closed."
"Which was considered a way to prevent bad agents tampering," Evan told her.
She nodded. "I can agree with that principle. That would require senior agents to have a good grasp of English however. Even the people who're native here don't always use good grammar."
"True," the First Lady said, sitting on her other side. "Do you know a company that could help us?"
She gave her a horrified look. "I wasn't even suggesting that way, ma'am. Uh-uh. No, no way. I'm not like that. I want to follow Uncle Tobias. He and dad have proven how my earlier training would do that job just as well. I like that idea." They smiled at that. "I wasn't hinting. Not in the least. "We've got a secretarial pool in the Capitol complex. Let them do it."
"They could," George agreed. "How much are the temps costing you, Hannah?"
"For the month? About six grand each due to the hours. They're working twelve hour days and all agreed. Even at five days a week, that's still overtime."
"It is," he agreed, looking at the other leaders. "Do you agree?" They nodded. "You still think thirty years is too far back?"
"I question whether or not anything that far back can have real relevance. I would suggest that we upload the more recent ones first, and work back year by year. Unfortunately ours are presently alphabetical. We're going to be lucky to get through the H's if we get any sort of caseload this month, sir."
He considered it, then nodded. "Okay, I can bring this to them Monday morning. Point out that most of the computer geeks have been having problems with the timetable and pointing out how bad this could be on the budgets."
"We've blown ours," Jen told him. "We had to update storage space, sir. We planned to have to replace our system in another three to five years and planned our storage needs for that many cases. We had to triple that and install it. It's being switched over this weekend."
"Storage can be used by the new system," Hannah reminded her. "Each agency should still keep it's own files. It's too big a risk if you have just one server. If it's hacked, it'll be erased totally. If each agency keeps they're own, they're responsible for the security and backups to be done. Plus, we've all got computer people on the payroll already. Have *them* tell you what to get, sir." She looked at the president again. "Let the experts tell you what is hacker proof, idiot proof, and techno-phobic people proof."
"Something Gibbs can't destroy by using it," Evan agreed.
Jen looked at him. "So I take it the problem with his PDA isn't uncommon?"
"Tom Morrow complained that he went through computers like underwear some weeks. Slapping monitors, types too hard onto his keyboards. Plus Abby wears hers out at a fantastic rate." He looked at their boss again. "It really is wiser and more fiscally responsible, sir. Let's face it, I've seen NCIS's local branch get into the file room maybe three times in the last year?"
"Twice. The other was in the on-floor five year files. The others, one was an ancient cold case that had a deathbed confession and the other was to check against an old serial case." She shrugged. "All within the last ten except for the cold case, that one was thirteen. I wouldn't care getting all our old files onto the system if we had the room, the time, the budget, and the system that could handle it, but our old tape drives are shot. We've got degraded tapes with smoke damage in some cases. We never planned for more than a decade's worth of storage."
"Which again, could be fixed with an individual system," Hannah offered. "If they end up writing one and designing it that way, who's to say it's got to change to be upgraded every few years? This isn't a short-term project. This is a longer project. It's going to make for a lot of cranky secretaries, Uncle George."
"I can see where you're coming from, guys." He smiled as their suite's door opened, admitting his VP. "Come on in. Hannah stopped by to note some irregularities that've already occurred with the records upgrade."
"Not in time," Hannah agreed. "Plus, the systems aren't secure. They don't talk to each other. Everyone's got to buy bigger storage areas. The FBI's had people drop dead according to Uncle Tobias. He was ranting on the phone when we talked the other night. NCIS alone has over seven thousand folders left to go. Plus a storage move this upcoming week."
He considered it. "It could create some jobs to do that."
"We have all the people we need," Hannah assured him. "All the agencies hired computer techs with a clue. Plus at least three programmers at each agency somewhere. Even if they are agents like Special Agent McGee. Get the geeks together, let them fix the system, design *one* system that works and is secure and safe. Then let the Capitol's secretarial pool upload files. You guys were thinking about cutting their budget, this would give them a reason to be there when needed for at least another year to two years. Plus it'd be harder for hackers to get in. Considering one of my teachers hacked the CIA during class, took about two minutes, and no one knew who it was until *today*? It could use it."
"It could," he agreed. "It'd probably save us money in the long run too." Hannah nodded. "You going into business, Hannah?"
"No, I'm following Uncle Tobias into the FBI. I'm going to be his protege." She smiled sweetly, making him shudder. "He and Daddy, plus Uncle Jethro's team, have been very good at helping me see where my prior training is going to come in the handiest. Though I am joining society when I'm of age," she said smoothly. "I interviewed with my mentor today actually." The First Lady hugged her for that. "I chose Mrs. Craws. She's very realistic and believes in subtle things, plus she's known for not tolerating or liking the idly rich girls who do nothing more than drink, have sex, and do bad things on camera. Which daddy would loathe." George smiled at that. "He's still threatening all boyfriends and a welded-on chastity belt." She smiled at her Uncle George again. "Really, it does make more sense. This way they can plan for the future. It'd be a good thing for the community as a whole as well. Draw them closer together, which is something you wanted to happen."
"I do," he agreed. He looked at his VP, who shrugged. "Don't have an opinion?"
"What do I know about computers?"
"Point. Dear?" His wife smiled and nodded. "That's fine. Evan, Jen, go ahead and spread that around. I'll tell the advisory panel that we've decided on doing it this way after the first week has shown that the timetable was impractical and we had some underlying problems that hadn't been fixed yet." He patted Hannah on the cheek. "Are you sure you won't come to the convention, sweetie?"
"Uncle George, I'm not ready to declare political leanings yet. I'm only fifteen," she reminded him gently. "It could severely impact my career and my entrance into society, plus my college years."
"Good point. Remember to have some fun there too, pumpkin."
"Oh, I am. Daddy said I could decide about the sorority stuff myself."
"How is he treating you, dear?" his wife asked.
"Very well. He's been an absolute angel recently. He didn't even ground me for cutting my last two classes Friday when I had a headache from worrying about the meeting today. This last week has been a lot of long hours. Very long hours." She nodded at that. "I've spent a lot of them helping him at the office. I've done ten of my community service hours for school. So has Matt."
"That's fine, dear. Where are you doing your others?"
"We want to do a Habitat event but Daddy's worried that my aunt's going to follow through on her threat to kill me before I turn sixteen and come into my other inheritance from their mother. It'd take it away from her and she's quite angry. We've put around that it was because she was slipping like grandmother, but really she's just jealous." She shrugged and hugged her again. "It could be worse I suppose. Daddy can't go with us with these hours and we're talking about hiring us a guard just in case. Well, he and Jethro are talking about it and then they're going to discuss it with me." She yawned. "Excuse me. Late night. We didn't get home until midnight with the inputting we did. Matt's helping Uncle Ducky do his."
"That's all right, pumpkin. We understand how hard this age is," Uncle George reminded her. "We've got our own kids. Tell Jethro to sign off for the day and take tomorrow off as well, unless they get a case. We'll have the official agreement in place Monday." She smiled and hugged him, then her again. She waved at the VP then took Evan's arm, waving as they walked out. "She didn't even want to promote a company she'd start to do the inputting. Her father is definitely warping her away from her grandfather's ways."
"Of course he is. He didn't agree with them. The daughter will follow the father since the grandfather is dead," the VP noted. "Would that work?"
"It would and it'd save us a lot, especially if they wrote it," the First Lady offered. "It'd use what they already had and allow for a gradual update, plus use less staff because we wouldn't have to hire more on. The secretarial pool could use it to keep going for another year or so. Would they have enough people with the clearance?"
"I can check," the president assured her, smiling at her. "You like her idea?"
"I do. It's smarter and a long-term approach. Not a quick fix. If the other agencies can't search through each other, what good is the uploading?"
"Good point. Plus less overtime would cut costs as well," he agreed thoughtfully. "She certainly hasn't let her skills go stale," he said appreciatively. "Can we get her to go over the budget?"
"She'd cut programs in the military," the VP offered. "Her father's a humanities person."
"Probably true," he sighed, shaking his head. "All right. We'll issue that order. Make sure the pool can do that. Get them together as soon as possible. I want this done within a year if possible. If not, two definitely." That got nods and his wife went to get his secretary so she could draft the corrected statement. He picked up his book and went back to it. "Going golfing?"
"Yup," the VP agreed. "Want to go?"
"Nah, I'm gonna relax here. Maybe tomorrow." That got a nod and he left.
Hannah walked off the elevator with the director. "There is a reprieve, people, and it is called someone kicked some sense into him!" she announced happily, grinning at McGee. "I gave Uncle Evan your letter."
"Thank you. And?"
"You and the fellow computer people are going to be getting together to make *one* system that talks to itself. However you do it. Even if you have to write it. Then we'll upload all the files into it."
Gibbs smiled and relaxed. "The files?"
"Well, the secretarial pool was suggested when I got asked," Hannah admitted. "They're secretaries, they can do that. If they have to be closed by a senior agent, get one who's near retirement or something."
"Yes," Tony said happily. "The official reprieve paperwork comes when?"
"Monday. Go home, come back then," the director ordered.
Gibbs looked at Hannah. "How was your uncle?"
"Good." She smiled sweetly. "He thought I was suggesting I could form a quick company to do the uploading. Disabused that notion quickly, thank you. I again turned down the generous offer to go to the convention, citing future difficulties since I'm so young at this moment in time." She smirked at her father. "I went fiscal, daddy. I proved how it would save on overtime, frustration, security costs, and solve the future problems, especially if people like Tim could *write* it for us, maybe even the OS it works on." Tim looked at her and suddenly smirked. "I figure there's someone out there who can do that. I did suggest keeping individual storage." He nodded. "I have learned well at many knees, Uncle Tim. Yours was one of them, as was Auntie Abby's." She grinned sweetly at him. "So, we're done for the day. Whatever shall we do?"
"Sleep," Gibbs and Tony told her.
McGee smirked. "I'm going to email the other geeks and see who's in to do this. Then I'll go sleep." He got to work on that.
Gibbs stood up. "Normal time Monday morning?" Jen nodded, smirking at him. "Thanks. Let's go home, people." Ziva gave him a long look. "That includes you."
"I'm halfway done with one."
"Finish it then go," the director offered, getting a nod and Ziva getting back to work.
Tony groaned and finished his up with a few more minutes' work. Then he took his daughter home. "Didn't I say no?"
"Yes, but it was too important not to rebel." He looked at her. "It was."
"Dad, how many other kids needed their parents this last week and had to hang in the conference room with the grumpy old guy on pain killers?"
"Point," he admitted. He pulled out of the garage and headed home. "You abused his notions?"
"I did. I also mentioned what was really going on with your aunt since he's got some friends that way who might hopefully stop her." He grimaced at that. "Maybe we can talk him into assigning me a secret service guy for the summer?"
"I can get you a bodyguard, Hannah. Someone who lives up to our standards."
"Yes, dad. I wasn't doubting, but it would save you money."
"Maybe," he agreed, patting her on the knee. "Let me nap and then we'll have dinner, okay?"
"Sure." He pulled into their building's parking area and they got out, heading up to sleep. By the time she crawled into bed, Abby and Jethro were in and napping with her father. She smiled and climbed under her sheets, letting her cats come help her nap. "Come on, my napping buddies. She called the morgue. "Ducky, did you get the good news?" Oh, good. "Can you take Matt home? We ran out of there to nap." She grinned. "Thank you, Uncle Ducky. Tell him we're sorry." She hung up on a yawn and let herself drift off. It was a good day to nap.
Hannah smiled at the secretary who joined her Monday morning. She was skipping History but she didn't care. "I canceled the others but not you. The reason for that is someone needs to proofread reports and make sure everything's filled out exactly as it should be," she offered, walking her inside and to the desk to sign in. "You're the one Uncle Jethro liked and he's the most picky person in this whole building, he's also got the highest standards. You'll get people who play, some people who can't type, some who enter in words in other languages and translate it back." She smiled at the guards. "This is the secretary for the agents. She's starting temp today." They nodded and got her a visitor's badge, getting her signed in and noted. "Thank you." She walked her to the elevator then up to the director's office, winking at her. "Madam Director, may I introduce Abilene Margolis? She's the temp secretary who'll be proofreading all the files on the floor so that the senior agents have time to do all the various crap they have to do besides that." Jen blinked at her. "You said yourself, too much of your budget is going to admin tasks," she reminded her. "I've hired her for the month, try it out, if it works then it works. If not, we'll figure out a better way to keep Uncle Jethro and that nut in row three from having coronaries from the paperwork. By the way, you did realize he's been having chest pains, right?"
"No, the nut in row three. The guy who looks like Bart Simpson when he goes bald."
"Oh, him. I hadn't, I'll make note of it and have him sent for a physical." She made note of that. "Are you sure?"
"Yes," she said blandly. "Route the admin paperwork and all that stuff through her. Let her proofread reports. Then send them back for editing. She can even *file*."
Jen smirked. "I like that idea." She glanced at the clock, then at her. "I won't tell your father you're skipping."
"I don't care if you do or not. Not like I like history." She shrugged. "If I'm grounded tonight I'm grounded. He'll be happier not to have to do as much paperwork."
"Possibly. That's fine, we'll give it a try." She smiled and shook Abilene's hand. "Let's get you set up at a desk and integrate you into one team, then we'll let the others add in their work starting tomorrow." She walked her off. "Go to school, Hannah."
"Yes." She gave her a look. "I will be having your father check on you at lunch."
"Crap." She shrugged and slunk out, heading for the elevators and down to catch a cab to Matt's house. "Bad news, I'll be checked on at lunch."
"Yay. I'm taking today off. I'm bored, I want to do something fun."
"Sure. I don't care if I get grounded either. Museum?"
"I said *fun*, Hannah," he complained, walking out with her. "Theme park's closed."
"There's a fair going in Baltimore. We can take the train." He brightened at that. "It's a river fair."
"Let's check on that then head." She nodded and they went to do that.
The Director walked down into Jethro's unit, smiling at him. "This is Abilene Margolis." Tony looked down at her. "We're going to do something new as a trial with this whole floor. She's going to be proofing the reports, doing the admin paperwork, and helping you with whatever she can. For the whole floor, Jethro." He groaned. "So, we're going to find her a desk by the stairs and you can send all those reports that way so she can edit and send back. Then all you have to do is give a read and sign. It cuts your paperwork in half."
"What sort of lag time would she have if she's doing the whole floor?" Tony asked.
"I type ninety words a minute, Agent DiNozzo. I was an English major as well. That's why I was chosen." She smiled at him. "I can probably do all the reports within the day they come in, if not the next one."
"I might not mind," Ziva offered. "I still type mine in Hebrew then translate it back to make sure I've said what I think I did."
"That was mentioned and I know the problems that translators bring in with grammar. I can easily work on that with you. I'll put all my remarks in brackets behind where it should be." That got nods so she looked at Jethro. "Anything's better than another day of reports, yes?"
"Fine, I've got a backlog. Find her a desk and I'll send them over, Jen."
"I realize that, that's why I starting with you. See, she can even do them while you're out on a case. That way you don't get further behind and JAG doesn't complain again about you getting further behind." She gave him a look. "I'll have her an inbox within an hour. Find it all for her." She walked her off, finding her a desk in the half-row under the stairs. "It's not the most comfortable...."
"It'll work. I have nothing at all against being in a corner, ma'am. I'm more than happy for the steady paycheck this month, even if I won't have the overtime."
"I wouldn't be too sure on that," she admitted. "Jethro's team is six weeks behind on his reports already. He's got a stack that've got to be proofed and the agents have another stack to write." She found her a chair and brought it over, then called computer services, who delegated to McGee. He came over on his crutches and got her into the system and got her password all set up for her. "Thank you, Agent McGee. When does that come off?"
"Another two weeks. I can't wait, it itches."
"Don't use baby powder," Abilene offered. "If you do it can get damp and then you'll get a yeast-like infection. My son did that when he had pins."
"Ow. I only broke it in two places. I'm so glad I didn't get pins." He smiled at her and handed over a disk. "There's my backlog of stuff that needs proofed. Plus one that he accepted so you know what he wants. Tony's downloading his and doing his last few right now." She nodded, smiling. "Break room's just past the elevator. There's coffee and machines."
"Thank you, Agent McGee."
"Tim." He grinned and hopped back to his desk so he could put his feet back up. He sighed.
"Still feel like your foot is pregnant?" Ziva teased.
"Like that state, I know the weight will end some month soon," he joked back. "It definitely makes me appreciate any woman who had to carry around ten pounds of water plus another seven of baby. My cast only weighs six pounds and it's tiring me out."
Tony looked at him. "You know, there is that friend in Sweden who said she got that one plan to work."
"I'd make a horrible pregnant man and Gibbs would get really upset with me," he shot back. "Boss, I gave her my backlog. So just save them all down and hand them over. She's in." He IM'd her inbox address, getting a grunt and a nod for it.
"So, where do we think the daughter is heading?" Ziva asked.
"Matt would want somewhere fun. Baltimore's having a park and harbor fair this week. Matt hates museums. Richmond's got a sidewalk fair going on but that's too far for a casual day trip. Downtown's having a music festival tonight but it's jazz. Not sure if he wouldn't whine her to death for that since he's a country and Kid Rock fan. I'm guessing Baltimore and she's already accepted the fact she's grounded all week." Gibbs smirked at him. "Plus, Abby did get her a phone with GPS finally."
"Good. Check it in an hour, give them a chance to pick a destination and head there."
"Oh, I haven't told you. She does call Fornell when she does this to update him where she's going. She's not being a total brat."
"Good. That shows some sense. She'll still be grounded all week." He got back to work rounding up all the paperwork, then he tied it together in a zip file and sent it to their new secretary, hearing her squeak. "Sorry, a bit behind."
"That's all right, Agent Gibbs. That's why I'm here." Two more beeps were heard as Tony and Ziva sent theirs. She came over. "Some of them appear to be duplicates. Should I mark them that way?" He nodded. "That's fine. Any other paperwork?"
"Do the reports for now. I can do the rest. It's tiring but not too heavy." She nodded, going to do that, starting with an index of what she was working on from whom.
Abilene smiled as Abby walked up to her desk. "Hi, Abilene Margolis."
"I heard. I'm Abby Scuito." They shook hands. "So, how's it going?"
"I had to check the format of one with Gibbs, who growled at DiNozzo, but I'm getting them nearly caught up."
"Oh, good." She looked. "I remember that case. It was last month. You're doing really well." She smiled at her. "How's Ziva's report writing?"
"Fair enough. She does proofread first, it's the normal issues you'd expect with a non- native speaker. I did some work with the Tanzanian embassy so I've seen it before."
"Cool. If you need help, just ask. They're sweeties, even if Gibbs does growl a lot." She smiled and walked back to that row, looking at Tony. "Your daughter is downtown with Fornell. I don't know why."
"Maybe he's chewing her a new one."
"Maybe," she agreed happily. "She's up to the Fronts case, Gibbs."
"Then I'm damn impressed," he admitted. He finished another form and sent it upstairs to the person who wanted it done. Then he leaned back. "DiNozzo."
"Thinking about texting her, boss." He decided and did it, then got back an 'I'm having a conference on the evils of skipping school' back. "Ha, he did catch her," he agreed happily. He called Fornell. "Tell her she's grounded all week while you're at it." He listened to him say that and his daughter sigh. "Thanks. Did you tell his dad already?" He grinned. "So, what drew you out of your comfy, air conditioned office? Another feint?" He sat up, listening. "They did what?" He growled. "Who were they?" The 'handled' didn't cut it. "Fornell." He listened to him say how it was handled. "Thank you. Yes, she's going to quit being a truant. I can assure you of that. Make sure she gets home please." He hung up. "Local PD wanted to bring the kids in for skipping school and put them in a cell. She called him." Gibbs glared. "Fornell chewed them a new one for putting two kids in a cell for skipping school when they were wandering around for lunch. He did tell Matt's father already and promised he'd deliver Matt to him once he got done talking with them."
"Go Fornell," Abby said happily. "They okay?"
"Some scuzzfart hit on Matt but he's fine."
"A bit harsh if they weren't doing anything," Gibbs agreed. His inbox beeped so he opened it, going to correct his spelling mistakes and ignore the 'that's what she's supposed to be doing, Jethro' comment. He sent it back once it had been spell checked.
Abilene came over with a paper. "Is that how that name's spelled? I thought I should check."
He looked, then looked up the case file, writing it out for her. "Even I had to look that one up," he admitted quietly. "How are you doing?"
"I'm doing fine. How are you doing?" she asked with a smile. "She did write me a message to come get all the other forms so you could have a case."
"Nothing's come in. Once it does, he'll dump that on you too," Tony said wisely, smiling at her. "You have anything to send back?"
"I was going to wait until lunch, send them all back at once so you had something to do this afternoon, then let him sign them."
"That's fine," Gibbs agreed. "Thank you, Abilene." She nodded, going back to her desk. "She's good."
"She is. Hannah's got good taste in secretaries."
"She does," Abby agreed. She smiled at him. "Are we yelling tonight for dinner?"
"No, I'll yell tonight while someone fixes dinner," he assured her. She smiled and nodded. His inbox beeped so he looked at the clock, then got to work fixing his grammatical mistakes. Not *too* many at least. Ziva moaned when she got hers. "Look at it as improving your native speaking and writing skills," he offered.
"I am. Who is Caine?"
"Kung Fu: the legend continues," Tony said with a happy grin. "Not using contractions or speaking like a Shao Lin monk?"
"No contractions." She moaned but got to work editing out her problems for the edits. Then she reread it. It did read better. More natural sounding.
Gibbs looked at his inbox as it beeped, getting the 'completed' files. He scanned through them for accuracy and facts, then signed off and sent them along. "We keep this up, we'll be caught up within the week," he said dryly.
"I'm sure someone somewhere will be happy that you're caught up. What're we doing for lunch?" Abby asked.
"Food," he offered.
"Drive thru?" Tony suggested, looking that way. Gibbs looked back. "It was only a suggestion, boss."
"That'll be dinner, DiNozzo. Mind back on your editing skills." He looked at Abby, who was pouting. "Food. The rest is dinner," he repeated more quietly. She nodded, going back to her lab. They'd tell her where they were ordering from and get her something. Some days he didn't understand his lovers. He was all for a lunchtime quickie but not while they were in the parking garage.
Tony walked into the director's office, giving her a bored look. "What's wrong, Director? Did Hannah step on more toes?"
"No, nothing about that. Sit, please." He sat across from her. "Some...irregularities have been noted back to me about your team." She shifted in her seat. "I would have went to Jethro about this but he'd just grunt and stomp off."
"That's not sounding promising. What irregularities?"
"Your relationship," she admitted.
"We don't think it's anyone's business."
"Neither do I, but they're concerned that your cheating on Jethro with Miss Scuito is going to cause trouble on your team."
"Uh-huh." He considered it then shook his head. "Trio." She nodded, so she knew that. "Do you want us to hide it better?"
"I'd prefer it not come into the workplace at all," she admitted patiently. "The teasing and playing was noticed however. I'm not sure how you want to deal with that issue, but I thought I should talk to one of you. She doesn't respond well to me, Jethro would grunt and stomp off before hunting down the source of the leak, and you're the calmest of them most of the time."
"Was it the secretary?"
"No, no, it wasn't her. She believes it's cute. Then again, she thinks Abby's cute." She shrugged. "I don't care who you're sleeping with as long as it doesn't affect your job performance. So far it hasn't and it's kept you and her centered. As long as that continues, we're fine with you together. If it doesn't, it had better not affect the workplace."
"Yes, ma'am. Then who was it?"
"Someone on another team. Oh, how's Hannah's campaign going?" she asked with a smirk.
"We decided it's going to be at least another year."
"That's fine. If and when, let me know. That way I have all the paperwork." She dug something out and handed it over. "Fornell wants to talk to you about this case. Something came out during the trial," she said quietly. "He said it relates directly back to your family. I don't know why."
"I'll talk with him this afternoon and I'll warn Jethro tonight."
"Thank you. That should give him enough time to calm down. Hopefully." She grimaced. "Thank you for attending to this matter and doing all the backlog of paperwork."
"It's our pleasure to slave for the department, director." He got up and took the note with him, reading it on the way down. He paused, staring at the note. Then at his boss, who looked up at him. "Elevator," he mouthed, heading that way. He paused to grab his keys and phone, but not his gun. He had the feeling he didn't want to be armed.
"You're forgetting something," Ziva noted.
"I have a good reason for it." He walked onto the elevator and pushed the button for the garage, letting him turn off the power after a second. "Two things. First, don't get mad. I promised I'd tell you tonight but I have the feeling I'm going to be upset then. Someone brought the issue of me cheating on you with Abby to her attention. She already knew we were a trio."
"Good. I was hoping I trained her better than that." He leaned against the wall. "Who?"
"One of the other agents. She doesn't want you to hunt them down. Abilene said that Abby's cute." That got a smirk and a nod. "Second, Fornell wants to talk to me about that stupid case with the woman who had me hostage the last time."
"The last one, Gibbs." He handed over the note. "I'm not going armed. I've got a bad feeling and I don't think I want to risk Hannah's wrath from shooting him."
"We'll go." He turned back on the elevator, taking them down to the garage. "You all right?"
"I'm hoping it's not something like 'her dreams have come true, congratulations it's another girl'," he admitted.
Gibbs nodded. "Yeah, that would be bad." He walked him to the car. "Then again, you were unconscious through most of it. We wouldn't blame you." He got in to drive, letting Tony settle himself in. "Any idea which agent?"
"He caught Abby and I playing somehow. He or she, statistically a he."
"That sounds more like a woman noting a problem to another woman." He started the engine and backed out, heading for Fornell's office. "Call him, tell him to meet us somewhere."
Tony called. "Tobias. I just got your message. Where? No, Gibbs and I are coming. Where. Not like you didn't know, Tobias." He nodded. "Sure." He hung up. "Your usual meeting spot, boss. He said to give him ten. He's chewing an agent a new one."
"Sure. Nice day for a drive." He headed that way, going to think for a few minutes. "Abilene thinks she's cute?"
"That's what she said."
"Good. Then we're all agreed, Abby's cute today." Tony laughed at that. He patted him on the hand. "It'll be fine, Tony. We'll handle it and it'll be fine." He pulled into the usual park and sat there, watching the couples walk around on their lunch breaks and those who had taken the day off early. "There's Hannah and Matt."
"Wonderful." He got out and walked over there, startling the crap out of Matt when he grabbed his shoulder. "You two are in such deep shit," he said as he sat down.
"Daddy, it's boring."
"I don't care. You still have to take it. They can hold you back for not taking it."
"I took it in fourth grade!"
"So? They won't count that, so you've got to sleep through it now and pass all the tests."
"Can I put in my two cents and agree, it's boring?" Matt offered. "I've never had it and it's boring."
"Tough, kiddo. History can come back and bite you on the ass."
"Daddy, I had to correct the teacher the other day," Hannah pleaded.
"Isn't there an honor's class or something?" Gibbs asked as he sat down.
"Her other grades aren't quite good enough thanks to her science grade," Tony told him. "They won't do it for just one class, nor will they skip her ahead a year for just one class. She even offered to pass the final test so she could move on and he won't let her."
"I gave him a copy of the book we used in fourth grade and he's lodged a protest with my old school about introducing topics too far ahead of our cognitive skill level. He thinks he's got stuff to still teach us, but he taught us the lie of pilgrims at Thanksgiving, Uncle Jethro."
He gave her a pat on the back. "I know it's beneath your skills, but sometimes you have to slog through the crap to get to the other side of the pit."
"I'll have him again next year for History of England. He went over a chapter on why dresses were important and how fashion dictated women's status in society. Which I calmly handed him a paper on last month, using fifteen sources that cited differently. Fashion was dictated by certain people in the royal courts, the same as it is now. It depended on who was on top and whether or not they were slutty or not. It also catered to the tones of religious fervor during that time period. You couldn't have the dresses that completely bared the breasts in a time when the Church was more devout and stronger. He flunked me and said my sources were crap and made up. I pulled them out of the library and brought them, the paper, and him to the Headmistress, who corrected my grade, and said that it was very well thought out but that I shouldn't try to skip ahead again." Tony moaned. "I pointed out I'd already had this, I had corrected some his other assumptions, like the pilgrims at Thanksgiving one. She said it didn't matter, they wouldn't skip me ahead for just one class and he's the only history teacher."
"We could move to a better high school but my father likes St. Augies," Matt admitted. "It says something when even *I* know he's wrong and I'm not as smart as Hannah. I mean, he didn't even mention that most of the pilgrims who came over came seeking wealth and easy gold. They came over without food, without tools, mostly white men, very few women, and some who later came with their families to avoid religious overtones in their native regions or to escape their reputations. He thought the Salem Witch trials were an authoritative gesture."
"When in truth it was keeping women down and giving the societies a public spectacle for their perverted and antisocial group tendencies," Hannah agreed. Matt gave her a confused look. "The men perved on the women being tortured and it gave them an outlet for the mass anger and unease at the substance of their lives by giving them a way to vent on the soon-to-be-dead people. Just like public executions during the French Revolution."
"And before," Tony agreed. "We'll talk about you switching schools, Hannah. I know they're not helping you any."
"I want to stay with Matt, but Gods, daddy. Can we convince his father?"
"We'll talk about it tonight," Jethro agreed. "Invite him over for dinner." The kids nodded at that. He looked over at the waiting FBI agent. "You didn't want to jump in?"
"I heard this one earlier today when I got them for lunch." He sat down, looking at Tony, handing over the file. "That came out in the trial and I'm not so sure they won't be calling you."
"I was unconscious through most of it." He read the transcripts, then shook his head. "Not possible." He handed it to Jethro. "If she did, have them ask her about my birthmark."
"The judge won't allow it. I'll tell the prosecutor for you." He shrugged. "I don't know what to tell you, DiNozzo."
"Tell them the truth, if she did it, she had to have seen it. If she didn't, she can't describe it. Most everyone who's seen it wants to touch it, and it's got a fairly unique texture. You can disprove that easily enough. I'd have realized if I had."
"We didn't have to redress him," Jethro said quietly, handing it back. "She claiming anything else?"
"Yeah, the very tanned baby she had is his, but the DNA test the prosecutors ran came up negative."
"Abby said they asked for my results," Tony admitted. "I was hoping it wasn't something like that."
"It was. I wanted you to be warned."
"Warned I am," Tony agreed, smiling at him. "Thank you, Tobias. Got any other solutions to this issue?"
"Having her change schools with him. Either that or change the history teacher."
"I'd pay to get him gone," Hannah sighed, leaning against Jethro's arm. "Daddy, please?" she begged, looking up at him.
He looked down at her, smiling. "That's the first time you've called me that."
"You are my stepfather, even if you won't let daddy acknowledge it in public." She hugged his arm. "I'm so deathly bored."
"Why are you taking accounting?" Tobias asked.
"Because I needed something to do that was slightly fun and I wanted to make sure I was up to code on my tax laws." She looked at her father. "Speaking of, you *pay* someone to do yours?"
"Not like I want the stress."
"Hmm. I'll do yours if you want."
"No, I'd rather pay. That way no one can come after you if there's a math error or a hidden law. Besides, H&R Block love me. I'm the most challenging one they do all year." He grinned at her. "If the other building goes condo, I can buy the apartment there and get another deduction."
She rolled her eyes. "Have another one of me, that's a bigger deduction and that'll give daddy Jethro someone to make into a Marine since Mommy's already warped me goth."
"Call her that tonight," Jethro said, kissing her on the head. "I want to see the look on her face."
"She'll cry on me."
"She'll cry on all us," Tony assured her with a smile. He grinned at Fornell. "Any good alternate schools?"
"Honiwell is all girls. St. Catherine's is a bit more religious but better academically." Both kids shuddered at that. "Priori has a branch down here." Tony gave him a death glare. He shrugged. "Noting it." He considered it. "I have no clue where else is good. She's as close as I'll ever get to kids."
"You can be a godfather to mine when I have some some decade," Hannah offered with a sweet smile.
"Thanks, kiddo." He grinned back. "Ask your director if you can't work it out with the school."
"I like St. Augies most of the time," Matt admitted. "But I hate this year so far and next isn't looking any better. We're losing the science teacher to her assistant." Hannah shuddered. "Yeah, that's my feeling. She's a bit germphobic," he explained.
"We've had a nice section on her about biological weapons and germs," Hannah agreed.
"I'm all for a thorough education, even quirky teachers, until you start to interfere with the learning process," Jethro admitted.
"Matt, if we've got to move her, and it's a more expensive school, we'll tell your dad we'll cover it," Tony offered quietly. "That way you two don't have to be split up."
"I know, I'd yell too, but a better education is always better for you," Tony reminded him. "I don't want her going to some snob school but I can't let that stand."
"Please, work on it with us. All we can do is protest and walk out. The headmistress knows we've been leaving due to these issues. Today, we had him for a double class, PE, which is dodgeball, and then science and English."
"Which is nice and all but I'm past interpretative forms of _The Poky Little Puppy_ and how it's a metaphor for other things," Hannah agreed. The adults all looked at her. She nodded. "That's our lesson this month. I've got to use the same theories and do another children's book. The closest I got to a child's book was _The Jungle Book_. She said it's too long."
Fornell sighed. "Go to any bookstore, find one."
"I did, and I'm not sure I can write this paper and not BS it."
"I did that on many papers," Tony admitted dryly. "What is she smoking?"
"We're not really sure, but she does stink," Matt offered. He looked at Fornell. "Thank you for rescuing us."
"Not a problem, kid. That was a bit harsh since all you guys were doing was walking in the park talking about music." He patted him on the back, looking at the other adults. "She's missed history six times, skipped all day twice so far this semester."
"She's allowed two skip days a semester," Tony admitted. "What were you doing instead?"
"Library or computer lab going over my stocks. I was teaching Matt."
Tony shook his head. "Okay. We'll handle it, kids. Anything else?" They shook their heads. "Jethro, you want to cook tonight?"
"Not really." He called Abby. "We're inviting Matt's dad over for dinner. Did you want to cook? No, neither of us do." He smiled. "Thanks, Abby. Hurry home tonight." He hung up and looked at him, then called the director. "We're taking off early thanks to Hannah and Matt skipping today. No, problems with the school. Tony's going to head there and I'm going to take the kids back to our place so we can have dinner with Matt's father. No, they're dumbing down lectures and things. Hannah said she went over it in fourth grade. It's bothering her and even Matt thinks it's dumb. Yeah, the year above did one on fashion in history class, Jen." He smirked. "Thanks." He hung up. "As long as we clear out the last of the reports by the end of the week."
"I'm nearly done now," Tony complained. He got up. "Okay, I'm cabbing to the school. Take the kids home, Jethro."
"Shotgun," Matt called.
"That's fine, I'll stretch out," Hannah assured him happily. "Thank you, Uncle Tobias." She got up and kissed him on the cheek, making him smile. "I'll stop by the office soon." He nodded, watching them walk off.
Jethro looked at him. "Next time, call and warn me so I can tie Tony down. He wants to throw a fit on the officer."
"He's already begging for a new job. He's on dog patrol."
Jethro smirked at that, walking off. He saw an officer looking at the kids. "I'm taking them home."
"You're their father?"
"No, I'm her stepfather."
"That's fine, sir. Are they skipping school? You know, the city has recently passed a tougher ban on students."
Hannah glared at him. "I'll have you know I'm an excellent student, we were having a family conference about some irregularities my teachers have been giving out, and it's not like *some* of us are causing problems. Even young children need a day off now and then." She took Matt's arm and walked him off.
"Next time, we'll stay home and play video games," Matt assured her.
"Works for me." She let him into the car, climbing into the back.
Jethro looked at her. "She's right, they weren't causing any problems, only soaking up the sunlight." He walked past her, heading to the car, smirking mentally about how strong a mouth their daughter had.
Tony walked up to where Matt's father was working, smiling at him. "We've got to talk."
"Skipping? Yeah, but they had a good reason this time at least. Want to come for dinner tonight?"
"Sure. I'm assuming he's already there?"
"Yeah, after Fornell had to unarrest them. The city's recently decided to crack down on skipping kids. They ended up in a cell for walking around talking about music. The officer is now cleaning dog crap thanks to Fornell."
"They did what?"
"They put the kids in a cell in general population for walking around the Mall talking about music."
Matt's father moaned. "Fornell did what?"
"What he should have done. You don't put kids who haven't done anything into general population. Your son narrowly escaped being attacked." Matt's father glared at him. "It got to the point where they were approaching and taunting. Hannah called it hitting on him." The other man nodded, calming down. "It was the right thing for him to do. You don't do that to kids, Steve."
"I agree, you don't. I still think it was a bit harsh of him to knock him down that far."
"He'll go back up again. Give his boss three days to clear out the stink and he'll be back in his old job. That's the way these things work. I worked in three departments and they were the same way."
"Good to know." He nodded at his secretary and walked off with him. "So, what else happened?"
"History and science teacher."
"I've heard about them both. They took another day off?" Tony nodded. "This makes two."
"Which is all we allow Hannah, but she's got a point. He's teaching them crap. He went over pilgrims." Matt's father moaned. "Without mentioning why they came. He's teaching a lot of mythology."
"Matt's said they both want to change schools."
"They told us that too." He glanced around, then at him. "If it comes down to it, I'll make sure Matt can go wherever she goes. He's the one real stability in her life, Steve."
"Not needed, Tony."
"I know, but if necessary, it's there. Though she has been teaching him how to deal with her stocks and bonds on the days they only skip history." Steve moaned at that. "Six times this semester. Not that I blame her. She's so far beyond this crap it's not funny. They won't skip her up a class. The old science teacher is good but the new one's taking over next year. They've already had lessons on germ warfare theory."
"I heard and saw. The same as I saw Matt's history paper. I was hoping it was him slacking off." Tony shook his head, handing over a copy of the syllabus for both years. "What?" he asked, reading them over. "There's no way!"
"That's this year's and next year's," Tony sighed. "She handed in one on fashion and he tried to flunk her for having a brain and doing research in areas he doesn't like." He looked around again, then back at him. "I know St. Augies is a good school, but they're going to be in trouble with the college boards if this keeps up."
"I agree." He handed them back. "The Headmistress?"
"Is sympathetic but can't change what they're teaching."
"So we're stuck with them putting up with it, which means more skipping, or changing schools?"
"Hannah offered her to pay for the rest of his year if she'd hire a new history and science teacher. She refused."
"That's one ballsy move."
Tony smirked. "She hired us a secretary because we're so far behind on the paperwork. She's got us caught up from two month's worth of reports almost in a day. We don't normally have time to do reports. She only does it every once in a while. In a few weeks, she'll become money conscious again and Matt'll have to start buying his own lunch again."
"I heard she was providing food." He looked around then back at him. "Do we have any school choices?"
"Not yet. I've asked various people for lists and I'm going to compile them tonight so we can look them over together. I would like to keep the duo together if possible. He keeps her calm and centered when she's having flashbacks, like when she hired us a secretary."
"That's a flashback?"
"That is ever so much my father and mother's way of doing things," Tony agreed. "Not that I haven't thought about us having a secretary now and then, but that's her having flashbacks."
"That's fine. How soon before we've got lists?"
"Tonight probably. I've already scratched off the ones like she and I went to before. I don't want her exposed to that mindset. I'm not going to encourage her to go somewhere with a high prozac rate among the student body. Oh, did you hear about the English assignment and the representative nature of _The Poky Little Puppy_?"
"I thought he was kidding." Tony shook his head. Matt's dad moaned. "What can I bring for dinner?"
"We're ordering. We had one of those draining paperwork days and no one wants to cook." He shrugged and grinned. "They do still have some community service hours left to do as well."
"That's fine. I know they almost got a full eleven working with you guys. What happened?"
"Hannah got through to the people who made the do it in a month demand and suggested that there were underlying problems that had to be fixed first. So we got a reprieve on it."
"Congrats, man. I'll be over after work."
"Thanks. By the way, Hannah's still grounded all week for skipping today."
Steve smirked. "Matt will be too, if not longer. Go find the lists and we'll see what we can find." Tony nodded, walking off. He went back to his desk shaking his head. "Call my son's school. I want his full jacket and all syllabi for this year and next," he ordered. She nodded, going to do that. He'd need them to get him into another school. Hopefully they found somewhere just as nice.
Hannah came out of her room with the lists they had compiled and found information on. "References on the ones we liked the looks of. I took out Priori Academy's local school and everything in that class but Elizabeth's Academy. It's a good school academically and for the more nerdly children instead of the financial ones." Jethro nodded at that, looking through them.
Matt came out with the finished list. "That's the full list we were sent by everyone. As well as their report cards from the local school board and addresses. We only looked at those that had a B and up average, with two exceptions. One of them was more humanities oriented and was called 'neo-hippy' by the report. The other was more financially based, but that's Elizabeth's Academy and they're not rated."
Gibbs looked over those lists as well, looking at the kids. "Good work. Tony called, your dad's coming over for dinner. Any idea what we're ordering?"
"How about chicken?" Hannah suggested, looking at Matt.
"Works for us. We had baked chicken a few nights ago but he could use fried."
"I can see that," Tony agreed as he walked in, putting down the bags. "Fried chicken works for us too." He looked at the lists, frowning at a few and taking a pen to mark them out. "No way in hell. No way Matt'll have the sex change. They've only got ten boys out of five hundred girls."
"At least I'd be able to get a date," Matt complained.
Tony looked at him. "They make you sign a vow of chastity, Matt." He went back to weeding out the list, crossing out another three. "Not going to Elizabeth's. They're a prison like Priori is. Or the one by Georgetown unless you both want to convert. That's a very Catholic school and they want people within the faith there." He crossed off one last one. "That one's only taking limited boys so they're probably filled and they're a prozac nation as well." He went to put the food out, then set the table.
"That weeded your list down to thirteen," Gibbs offered, handing it back. "Rank 'em." They sat down to talk about them, sorting them in rank order for them. "Paperclip any ties," he ordered when the argument started. He looked at Tony. "Abby just left."
"That's fine. I remembered she'd be over." He grinned at the conference going on. He knew at least one of the ones he had vetoed would get back in and he was sure they'd see he was right. Abby walked in and smiled, letting Steve in. "Just in time. I went for mildly unhealthy but good."
"Fried chicken is nice. My girlfriend's on a baked chicken kick. Kids?" They came over to hug him. "We're going to be talking tonight, Matt." His son sighed. "You threatened a teacher?"
"To leave me alone. I hate being the only one she calls on."
"Yay. Suck it up."
"I hate that sort of attention." He went to clean up, coming out with washed hands and face, letting Hannah have the bathroom. "So, how was work?"
"Less boring when Tony got there." He looked at the kids, seeing the sheepish looks. "You couldn't just *tell* us?"
"You thought we were kidding," Hannah reminded him. "So did daddy, who said to endure for a few more days, it'd change at the end of the month."
"Did it get better?" Jethro asked since it had been his suggestion. That name was still giving him the warm fuzzies.
"No. It moved onto Mayan mythology." Abby cooed and hugged her. "I'm okay, just tired of the shit at the school."
"Language," Tony ordered, staring her down. She sighed and nodded. "Thank you."
"Can mom go with us to look at the schools?" Hannah asked. Abby gasped and stared at her. "Well, you are!" She started to cry and ran around to hug her. "Shh, it's all right. I'm told hormones make us cry at odd things, that's what makes us women." Abby laughed and hugged her harder. "Thank you, mom."
"Welcome, baby." She kissed her on the temple, smiling at Steve. "Sorry, first time she called me that."
"That's okay. I understand." He looked at the kids he was sitting next to, then the other adults. "I got the full syllabi for this year and next." He pulled them out of his briefcase, handing them to Abby, who moaned and shook her head. "Exactly. I'm not sure what we can do about this."
"Me either." Jethro handed down the list they had compiled, letting her look at it. "Some of these are very good schools." She saw the ones paperclipped and looked, then at them. "That's a hole."
"It is, but it's a good school academically," Matt offered. "They spend the money on books and teachers, not the building."
"Still, there's got to be a happy medium. Otherwise you end up going somewhere condemned." She kept going. "That one's like the Addam's Family." She looked at them. Matt pointed at Hannah and rolled his eyes. She smiled. "It's a good school."
"It's creepy and so are the students," Matt assured her. "I look like a radical in all black, Abby."
She giggled. "You know, she's going to the Goth Ball."
"I heard. I'll cheer her on greatly," Matt assured her. "We're buddies, not dating. I'd never date my friend. Who else would I learn about girls from?"
"That's my reason too," Hannah agreed. "Who else would I complain about girl stuff to?"
Steve laughed at that. "At least you each get something out of it." He took the list from Abby, nodding at some of the choices. "Some of these are very high end."
Matt looked at him. "Dad, I will pay Uncle Tony back forever if I have to. Just get me out of that school! Please?"
"There's always military academies," Jethro offered.
"Hell. No," Hannah said firmly.
"One more and you're going to your room and I'm yanking the breaker," Tony ordered.
Abby looked at her. "Needing the midol?"
Hannah nodded. "After earlier? Yeah. How dare they put us into general population for walking in the sunshine! It's not like we were tagging buildings or lifting cars or something! We were enjoying the sunlight! They put us into the same cell too."
"They put you in a male cell?" Steve asked.
"General holding cell. It was me and a prostitute in there for women," Hannah told him flatly. "Next cell over was the start of the regular jail. We were in pre-processing." Matt shuddered. "I still want to find him and kick him, hard."
"You can't and Fornell got him busted down to cleaning dog crap," Tony said calmly. "If he goes back up again, we'll protest ourselves." She nodded, relaxing at that. He looked at Steve. "Sorry."
"No, it's all right. I don't like that they were treated that way either." He looked at the kids. "Stay in and order lunch from now on."
"Oh, we will be," Matt agreed. "There will be no going out unless she *has* to run out. She can talk her way out of going out for tampons or ice cream."
"She can stock up and buy ahead," Abby assured him. She looked at the lists again. "Should we start scheduling interviews?"
"I've got an idea," Matt offered. "Ask Sisa."
"She's got friends in the other schools, like Ducky does among the hospitals," Hannah agreed.
Tony nodded. "We'll do that later tonight, once you're in bed and Matt's gone home. Then we'll schedule visits and those things. That way he and his dad can schedule theirs and then we'll talk about it?" he suggested. Steve nodded at that. "Okay, anything else that must be discussed?"
"What did Fornell want?" Abby asked. "Oh, Gibbs, it was Marl."
"Thanks, Abby. Did Abilene blush at you?"
"Gushed over my necklace after lunch," she offered with a grin. Matt moaned. "Sorry, kiddo."
"Not your fault you're so pretty and wanted," he promised, grinning at her. He looked at his buddy. "I can't believe you hired them a secretary."
"I can. She's nearly got us caught up already," Tony offered. "The director is drowning in paperwork from our team alone."
"That's always a good way to keep busy," Steve offered with a smirk. "She's good?"
"She's been catching up on our reports," Tony offered. "Proofreading for the boss, editing when necessary so we can make changes. Then we make changes, send it to him, and he reads, sends it on to her. We were so far behind most of mine were in outline format for the last month."
Gibbs nodded. "You could tell. Sometimes they came to me in that format. How many more do you have to send her?"
"Three more to edit, eight to her."
"That's fine, Tony. Abby, did you need help with that?"
"Nope," she said happily enough. "I had Tim do a background today on my new lab troll. Ducky and I are sharing a secretary." That got some smiles, Ducky didn't like to type. Neither did his assistant.
"I don't know what I'd do without mine," Steve offered. "I'd miss the cranky woman if she left me."
"I'd miss her too but if she keeps forgetting you have a son I get to slap her, right?" Matt asked. His father glared at him. "Truth! She did! Did you get mine today?" He shook his head. "I left a message saying we were skipping and why. She keeps doing that, dad."
"When we went to his office the other day, she stared at him a lot," Hannah offered. "Either she wants him bad or she wants him gone." She stuffed her mouth on the shocked looks.
"She did stare a lot," Matt agreed. "She's much too old for me so I hope it's just hate."
"I think I'll be having a discussion with her tomorrow," Steve decided. "When did you leave the message, son?"
"About when I got back home. So, right before you got there."
"That's fine, I'll check on her." He patted his son on the back. "We'll talk about the schools once we find out more information and schedule visits."
"Sure. I don't even care about ugly uniforms. Just get me away from the quacks before I start to grow feathers too."
"Wings might be nice," Hannah offered. "Flying would be cute too, but I'd hate to quack."
Jethro reached over to test her forehead, then grimaced. "You're going right to bed, you're warm."
"Yes, Daddy Jethro." She finished up. "Excuse me. I should shower and go to bed. I am feeling a bit tired." She headed to her room. She came out a few minutes later in her tanktop and shorts pajama set, handing the cat to her father. "She's not feeling good either." She trudged back to her room.
Tony looked at the cat, stroking down her back. "What's wrong with you, Jemstone?" She meowed pitifully. "We'll have someone check you over tomorrow, how about that?" She settled into his lap, something she hated to do.
"She must really be sick," Jethro offered.
"Yeah, I'd say," Abby agreed, going for the phone book. She called the all night vet. "Hi, how much do you charge to bring a cat in? No, she's sitting in the lap being pitiful. She never sits in laps. Even our daughter's. Yeah, kinda lethargic and quiet. That's fine. Thank you." She hung up. "They take regular patients until ten, it's about double what they usually charge, and he said to bring her in."
"I'll do that after dinner," Jethro offered. He took the cat, it liked him better. It curled up with her nose in his stomach. "Your ears are warm too."
"We'll take Matt home now," Steve promised, finishing his dinner, what his son hadn't snuck off his plate. He gave him a look and got a 'what' look back and a grin. "I hated that phase." He gathered them up. "We'll call in a few days, guys. Thank you."
"Not a problem," Tony assured him. "Thank you."
"It's better to have it solved than drawing on." He and his son left, heading for their car. He had to go back for his briefcase, but Jethro had it in his hand along with the cat. "Thanks."
"Done it myself plenty of times," he promised, getting into the car with the cat.
Hannah walked into the office the next morning, pouting. "My cat died," she said, getting a hug from Tim. "I'm taking grief leave."
"I understand. Your dad drive you in?"
"No, they had to do something so they'll be about ten minutes behind me." She pouted at the director. "My cat died."
"I'm sorry, Hannah. I know it's traumatic. Where are your fathers?"
"Getting my jacket from the school so we can start talking to ones that have good educations again."
"The history teacher is a flake. I'm leaning the same stuff I did in fourth grade. The year above us was learning about fashions in history." Jen shuddered at that. "Our new science teacher, who's slowly taking over, is germphobic so I know a hell of a lot on germ warfare now. Plus our english teacher is smoking something. How interpretative and representative is a children's story?" McGee groaned at that. "I can see something like Dr. Seuss. I can definitely see that. I can't see Thomas the Tank Engine being a representative and philosophical book!" she whined. "So can I help? Since I'm grounded I can't stay at home."
"That's fine," the director promised. "I have the budget to go over."
"Ooh, yay," she said flatly. "That's a punishment. I'm good with money stuff. I deal in money and dad does people. Let's go." She nodded, following her up to the office. She took the stack of papers with a whimper. "This is a wreck!" she said after glancing through it. She looked at her. "Who made this?"
"No wonder." She found some paper and went to find a desk to work on it, making her own notes. Someone in Congress needed to take accounting classes, and in some cases simple math. She came back two hours later. "You know you're already out of operating funds for the year?"
"They've already forwarded the cost of the new storage device."
Hannah handed over her notes, tapping the figures. "That's only this much. You ran out last month due to this project," she said, pointing at another one, getting a wince. "That's not what daddy does, right?" She shook her head. "They need to pay for that under a different funding then. Isn't what daddy does what the agency's supposed to do?"
"We all do anti-terrorism work now."
"You're cops, you should be cops. Yes, people should be doing the anti-terrorism stuff, but you're cops. That should be a background, not three-quarters of your yearly budget, and if they want it done, they should have to pay for it."
"We get half that split with the CIA." She handed over other papers, letting her sort it out.
Hannah went back to her desk and came back an hour later. "Well, you're still out of funds but not as badly. Your fiscal year ends when?"
"Then you're screwed," she said dryly. She put down the adjusted figures. "You need that to make up for this month's shortfall. You need these others to do that. This months can be met by the repayment of the server and storage purchase. The rest is in the hole."
"They'll get us cash to cover it."
"If normal people did this, they'd have very low credit ratings."
"True, but this is the government."
She snorted. "And they want to cut the income raising potential yet again," she sighed, shaking her head. "Gotta love people who were born with money so they don't think about spending it."
She gave the young girl a look. "Should I even mention the secretary?"
"Unlike the others, I know exactly how much I have, I manage it daily, I keep track of all my expenses, and I'm very good with my money. If you have another major expense or a really expensive case, you're screwed on next year's budget too."
"I've got to present that Friday," she admitted.
"Give," Hannah offered, holding out a hand. She gave her a look. "Now. It's clear I'm going to have to put it in idiot language for the congressmen." It was handed over. "Thank you." She took her forms back and went to work rewriting the budget so it made more sense. Both to read and fiscally. She included a category called 'last year's shortfall's and put in her calculations for there, adding in an amendment that this was as of this date, pending no further expensive necessities due to field work. She balanced it at the end, making sure it was even, then nodded, taking it back up there. "Okay, I went in a three- column design for ease of reading." She laid out the forms she had typed out. "The first is what is needed based on this year's projections, plus two percent to cover for inflation, because it is going to go up with the price of gas and things. The second column is for where you split funds since so many of your smaller projects do that. The last column is the totals column of what you'll need based on current projections, including the shortfall for this year. Notice I did put an amendment that it was subject to change due to expenses from a case or injury or something. I balanced it at the end, making sure it was even, and that's your final budget you present. That two percent can be knocked off but you'll have to point out inflation."
Jen Sheppard looked it over. "This is so much easier to read."
"Of course it is. If they need you to you can also break down each category. I put what I included in the description page." Jen hugged her. "Thank you. What case are they out on?"
"I'm not sure. They got one about nine because that's when Jethro stopped forwarding me paperwork again." She smiled at her. "I'll fax this over to them, make sure they can all read it."
"It's in plain English. If they can't, they obviously went to a school like my year is having. By the way, I'm counting this as community service hours too."
"You're helping this community, and it is a service," she promised. Hannah grinned and went to help the secretary do some of the paperwork. Jen squealed in delight. It was fixed. Even she could read it. Even Jethro could read it! She called her contact on the Budget Committee and smiled as she answered. "It's Director Sheppard at NCIS. I've gotten our budget done a bit early this year. No, we have an accounting student in here temping in with us so I let her loose on it. She straightened it up and reformatted it so even Jethro can read it." She smiled. "Faxing it right over. She did say inflation was going to become a problem so she did add a mere two percent and suggested I use that as my bargaining chip. Also, we're out of funds. If something major happens, we're screwed." She nodded. "She included that projection as well. Right to your office, Senator." She hung up and went to do that personally. She was almost giddy with it being done before it was needed. She just hoped Jethro didn't cause more expense.
Hannah looked up as Ducky ambled up to her, smiling. "I'm being good."
"I'm sure you are. Abigail said I should come gather you for lunch, my dear."
"Okay. I could eat." She let him help her up, smiling at the secretary. "If you need more help after lunch, I'm sure I'll be free since I'm grounded." That got a smile and she left with Ducky. "She is such a nice woman. She has a son a few years younger than me as well."
"Interesting. I heard she's nearly got Jethro caught up again."
Hannah nodded, grinning at him. "Lots and lots of reports from everyone." She heard an alarm going off and frowned. "That's not a fire drill."
"No, that's not. Head outside."
"I can help!"
"Outside!" he ordered more firmly. "Take McGee with you!" He rushed off, going to seal the morgue.
She ran for the desks. "Uncle Tim, come on. Call Mommy and let's go!"
He nodded, doing that. "I've got Hannah. Meet us outside." He hung up and walked off with her, going kind of slowly down the stairs. "It's all right, this is just a drill," he told her.
"Bullshit this is a fire drill!" she said hotly. "I know that alarm, I was here during one!"
"No, this is a different sort of drill," he agreed, heading outside through the emergency exit. He stopped her from running back inside. "Abby is coming. Come on!" He walked her to the outer fenced area, calling Gibbs. "The Alarm just went off. I've got Hannah but I don't see Abby or Ducky yet." He hung up and called Ducky. "Make sure you've got Abby. I'm trying to keep Hannah from running back in." The director came out, meaning everyone was out. He paged Abby, watching the doors. Palmer ran out. Ducky was right behind him with his bag. Abby was in the doorway when the building exploded. "Shit!" He lost a grip on her as she ran over. "Hannah!"
"Bite me!" She helped Ducky move her out of the way, patting her on the face. "Come on, mommy, wake up. It's time to wake up. Dad's going to be *so* pissed if you don't wake up," she begged.
Palmer pulled her off. "She'll wake up. She's just knocked out from the blast," he assured her, handing her to Tim. "Give us room to work." He checked her pulse. "It's steady. Sixty-four."
"Good. Hannah, dear, it's a simple concussion. You've seen those before. A rock probably hit her on the head." He got Abby to the stage of moaning and Hannah broke free again, coming back. "Yes, be gentle with her. Mr. Palmer, we should be checking for others." They went to check the others, finding the paramedics coming in. "Abby's unconscious, probably a bad concussion," he reported, looking at the their building. "That's...."
"One hell of a mess," Palmer agreed. He looked at the director. "Any other injuries?"
"Someone was injured?"
"Abby. She's knocked out. Hannah's got her."
"That's fine. We've got a few scrapes and things. I'll make sure the paramedics find her." She went to do that, taking off at a run.
Hannah glared at the building, then pulled out her phone, calling her Uncle Tobias first. "I'm fine. I'm outside. Daddy and daddy were on a case. Mommy's got a head injury," she reported. "No, I'm okay. I'm not calm but I'm okay. I hope not. Daddy's address book was up there." She grimaced, looking at Ducky when he came back. "I need to get into dad's desk to get his address book."
Ducky looked at the building. "If his desk survived I'd be amazed. It was the floor above them it looks like." He looked around. "Where is Abilene?"
"By the fence, she passed us," McGee reported. His phone rang. "Yeah, boss? She's almost awake, Hannah's in 'dealing' mode right now." That got a glare of death. "You glare nearly as good as Gibbs, Hannah." He handed over the phone, taking the other one from her. "Fornell, we're fine. Abby's knocked out but otherwise we're fine." He got out of the way of the paramedics. "She was in the doorway when it went up."
"That's fine, sir." They checked her over. "Probably a bad concussion, you were right, Doctor Mallard." They loaded her and took her off, one glancing at Hannah since she was speaking in another language on the phone.
Ducky took it from her. "She's fine, Anthony. Timothy had her with him. I promise you she's fine." He hung up and handed his phone back to him, letting McGee have them both. He hugged Hannah, making her calm down and quit vibrating. "It's all right."
"It is," he repeated. "No one died, it's all right, Hannah." She glared at him. "I promise you, everyone you love is fine. Everyone else is fine."
Hannah calmed herself. "This is going to blow the budget badly." Ducky laughed at that so she got free. She walked over to the director, who was giving orders. "I need to go with Abby, ma'am. Can I borrow some money? My wallet was in dad's desk." She nodded, handing some over. "Thank you. Don't touch father's desk. His special address book and files were in there. Let one of us do it please?"
"All right, if I can." Hannah nodded, heading off to catch a cab. She looked around at the mess, then called her boss. "Sir, I'm calling to report our building is a mess. No, sir, not a problem with maintenance. Look out your window, sir." He did and she had to move the phone from the yelling. "Bomb. Right above the bullpen area, sir. Thank you, sir." She hung up and went to manage some more things before he got there and took over.
Hannah walked into the hospital and up to the desk. "You brought my mother here from NCIS. How is she?"
"Abby Scuito? She was wearing goth school girl stuff today if it helps."
"Let me check, young lady." She went to do that, telling the nurse that her daughter was there.
"Mid teens. Very well spoken and calm."
"We still don't talk to minors." She walked out. "Miss?" Hannah looked at her. "I'm sorry, we can't give information out to minors."
"You'll tell me or I'm buying this fucking hospital and firing you," she said simply. "That is my mother. You will tell me because my fathers are going to start screaming soon if they don't hear something. I am more than old enough to know!" she yelled finally. The nurse flinched. "Now, how is my mother? The last I heard it was a bad concussion."
"Miss, it's against the law...." Hannah grabbed her and pushed her into a wall, following her to strangle her. "Miss!"
The other nurse pulled her off. "Let me take you back there. It's clear it'll calm you down. You can call your fathers and update them so they can come."
"That would be acceptable," she agreed. "I'm sorry, I'm distraught. I've already lost other family." She walked after her, going into the exam room. "Mom?" Abby waved her over so she moved closer, hugging her. "Are you all right?"
"I'm fine, Hannah. Calm down. It's just a bad concussion. Just like Ducky told you. That and some scrapes on my back and legs. It'll give Tony something to fuss over." She nodded, continuing to hug her. "Shh, it's all right, Hannah. I promise. I'm okay." She sat up with some help, pulling her up onto the bed with her. "See, I'm okay." She let the girl cry on her, giving the nurse a 'go away' look. She got a nod and the nurse left them alone. "Did you threaten them? Usually they won't let anyone underage back here."
"I kinda attacked her," she admitted sheepishly, looking up.
"Baby," she sighed, wiping her cheeks off. "It's all right. I'm okay. I'm really okay. Where's your phone so we can call the others?"
"Uncle Tim has it." She looked over as a guard came in. "You move me over your dead body," she snarled.
"She's a bit upset," Abby admitted.
"That's fine. We were hoping she could call her father so he could come take charge of her. She tried to choke a senior nurse."
"It happens." Abby shrugged. "One daddy's a Marine, the other's a former cop." She pointed at the phone. "Hand it over, I'll call." She called Gibbs' phone. "I've got a headache and a crying child who attacked a nurse when they wouldn't tell her anything," she said in greeting. That's us. Thanks." She hung up. "Fornell updated them, they're on their way in with the suspect in the back seat. Ziva can watch him for a bit." She went back to cuddling her. "I'm okay, baby girl. It's all right."
"You could've died."
"I'm fine. It's all okay." She looked up as the nurse came back, and one with bruises. "Apologize."
"I'm sorry, I was distraught."
"That's why we don't tell minors."
Hannah glared at her. "What makes you think I'd have reacted differently at twenty- one?" The nurse looked horrified. "You're keeping me away from my mother. Go away. I want her to have the best care and obviously your empathy meter is on empty today." She stomped out.
"She's just doing her job," the other nurse chided more gently.
Hannah shrugged. "So? How old do you think I am?"
"Try fifteen," Abby assured her. "Sixteen in a few months. She lost two siblings due to homicide. She's not going to react well. Hope like hell you never have Gibbs or DiNozzo in here ever again." A cop came in. "You touch my little girl and I'm kicking your ass, concussion or not." Gibbs walked in. "Remove him! Now! That nurse was rude to her, Gibbs."
"Out!" Gibbs ordered calmly. "You're upsetting both of them."
"She attacked me."
Tony glared at her. "The last time I was here I wanted to attack you. My daughter's a lot like me, huh?" She stomped off. "Can we check you out, Abby?" She nodded, then moaned and held her head. "We know what to do with concussions." He came in and kissed her on the forehead. "Any cracks?"
"No, and she could probably be released. Let me get the doctor," the nicer nurse offered, glaring at the officer until he left. "I'd have screamed at her too," she agreed. She went to find the doctor. "Miss Sciuto wants to go home."
"She should probably stay for observation."
"She's cuddling Agent DiNozzo's daughter, who is calling her mommy."
"He's had plenty of experience," he agreed, heading that way. "I'm sure Ducky will be checking on you often, miss."
"Abby, please." She got Hannah into Gibbs' arms, letting him hold her for now. "Can I go home?"
"That's what I'm looking for." She nodded, letting him look her over while she held her head. "I think you should stay, but if Ducky tells me he'll check on you and Agent DiNozzo will be staying with you tonight, I think it should be okay. Both of them are very familiar with head injuries."
"Did daddy already set the record?" Hannah asked from her safe spot.
"Nearly. He's one behind our ten-year record holder." He looked at Tony. "That wasn't a challenge."
"I know that." He walked over to take her, letting her sink into his arms. "Calm down," he whispered. "I've got her. I've got you. We'll handle it." She whispered what had went on and he snorted. "I don't think your trust would go for you buying the hospital, princess."
She looked at him. "They make crappy profits but it would be a humanitarian gesture."
"No," Gibbs said firmly. "You will write a letter of apology as well, young lady. You don't attack nurses. Some day she might be in charge of your care. As your father found out once."
"Not my fault. She was the asshole." The doctor looked at him. "I got Nurse Bethany on a day like today. Then when I had Y-Pestis."
"Oh, I'm so sorry. That was her trainee." He shook his head, looking at Gibbs. "No apology needed. She should have known better."
"It's still not right to choke the nurses. No matter how much she wants to."
"True, but she showed good form," the guard offered. "Got her into the wall to minimize the restriction of her lesser weight and height. You did very good training her, Gibbs."
Gibbs looked at him and pointed at Tony. "His genes."
Hannah looked over. "That's my stepdaddy. He told me how to be mean to the mean and nasty boys when they tried shit." That got a laugh and the guard left them alone. She looked at the doctor. "Can we have her back?"
"As long as Ducky promises to check on her." Gibbs called Ducky and handed him the phone. "Doctor Mallard, this is Philip Myers in the ER...yes, him," he agreed happily. "I can let Abby go if you promise to check on her. That way her daughter will calm down. No, she choked a nurse who refused her information, that one," he agreed. "I know, we've felt that urge around here as well. Thank you, Doctor Mallard." He hung up and handed the phone back. "He'll check on her around dinner for us. Let me get her papers." The nurse handed them over. "Thank you, dear." He finished filling them out then let Abby sign. "All right, let's release her to their care." He left, going to yell at the nurse himself. She wasn't well liked and you didn't treat hysterical children that way, especially not calling an officer on them.
Tony looked around. "I'll cab her home with Hannah, then head back to the office, boss. I've got to clear out my desk personally if it's still in one piece." That got a nod. "You take the suspect in?" That got another nod. "Meet you back there." He followed the wheelchair out, calling a cab from the line waiting.
Tony walked in and flopped down next to Abby, sliding down so his head was in her lap, getting the head pets he needed. "It was placed over MTAC. Our desks were fine. Your lab only got ventilation system damage." She smiled at that and relaxed. "Gibbs is finishing yelling at people. He'll be home soon. Hannah?"
"Napping. She's exhausted. She apparently worked on the budget earlier for the director and made a weak joke about this screwing it all to hell and back." She looked over as the door opened and Ducky and Gibbs walked in. "Hi, guys. I'm awake."
"I can see that." Gibbs kissed her gently. "Our little thug?"
"She's in bed. She was distraught, Gibbs. She cried on me and everything."
"Still doesn't excuse choking the nurse."
"I wanted to," Tony offered.
"So? Did she write the letter?"
"She even had it couriered over," Abby agreed. "It was a very nice three-quarter page apology." She smiled at Ducky. "Hi, Ducky."
"Abigail. How is your head?"
"Thumping like I'm in a club and there's a tiny DJ in there playing Radiohead."
He smiled at that, coming over to check her out. "You'll be fine, I'm sure of it."
"Good. How much longer for the headache to go away? I've already had two tylenol."
"Two, three days," Tony admitted, looking up at her. He sat up, letting Gibbs have her free side. Then he scooted down and put his head in his lap, getting more pets. "Hannah, we're home," he called. She came out and crawled on top of him, holding him. "I know, baby. It was a traumatic morning, but everyone's all right. Even Ducky said so."
Ducky nodded. "Indeed. She was the worst injured and she'll be just fine, Hannah." He smoothed down her hair, getting a wary look. "I don't blame you for being that distraught, but next time, hit the wall, all right?" She nodded silently. "Good girl. I'm very proud that you allowed yourself to be pulled off the rude little woman. Hopefully she'll learn more tact and empathy." She hid her face again. "I know, it's upsetting, but it's not a horrible thing. You let your emotions rule you for a moment, a very bad moment, but still only a moment." She nodded, burrowing into her father's chest.
"I'd have done the same thing, Hannah," Jethro offered quietly. "I have in the past when someone refused to tell me how your father was." She looked at him and he nodded. "Really." He patted her head too. "We understand but you've got to not do it again. Hit a wall instead." She nodded, swallowing. "It's all right." She crawled over her father to cuddle in his lap, needing this. "Shh, we've got you and she's fine. See, Abby's right there." Hannah got a hug from her too. "See, we've got you, Hannah."
"It was so close. She was in the doorway."
"I'm lucky, but that's why we have the warning alarms," Abby reminded her. She pulled her over to hug her. "I've got you. See, I'm warm and here." Hannah nodded, curling up with her. "Good girl. You rest. We've got you." She nodded, letting herself drift off again.
"Expect a few nightmares tonight," Ducky warned. Everyone nodded. "As for the normal things, I'll assume you can handle waking her every few hours?" Both men nodded. "Excellent. Are we due in tomorrow, Jethro?"
"You are to check the morgue again. The electric went out just as I was leaving." That got a nod and Ducky went to make some calls to house the bodies for them. He looked at Tony. "Get everything?"
"Yup, locked in the safe in my car."
"Good. What was in there?"
"My special address book, the files I've collected. My blackmail files basically." Gibbs nodded, going back to petting him. "That was too close, boss."
"It was," he agreed. "But she's okay and we're all fine." He got up and Abby wiggled down, dragging Hannah with her, then Gibbs got on her other side, letting both their girls rest. Tony too since he started to snore a few minutes later.
Hannah looked at the woman next to her, then back at Abby, who shrugged a bit. "Am I that pitiful today?"
"Yup," Abby agreed. "You and me both, princess." She cuddled her and smiled at the matron with them. "Sorry."
"No, dear, it's perfectly all right. She's said a great many things about you." She smiled at her. "How is your head?"
"Still thumping like there's a little DJ in there playing music but not quite as loudly today." Hannah smiled at that. Bryon came over, tipping her face up. "I got blowed up," she said dryly, giving him a look.
"I heard, precious, and I should spank you for not running outside immediately."
"I had to turn a few things off. I was in the potty." She gave him a look. "I'm okay."
"She is," Hannah agreed, still leaning against her. "Uncle Bryon, this is Mrs. Craws, she's my mentor."
"Charmed," he said, smiling and shaking her hand. "Welcome to my humble little shop. Hannah, honey, are we going to trim you today?"
"Yes, please. I've got to help the director with the budget again. This *really* blew it majorly."
"I can see why." He led her to his chair and got to work on her. "Abby, am I doing yours today?"
"No. My head hurts too much to comb my hair, much less trim it. The DJ might start playing Tubthumping again or something equally bad." Hannah giggled at that. "I swear I was picking up radio signals for a few hours." She looked at the matron. "Bryon's very good. He's known Tony for years now. He even gives Jethro blackmail material now and then."
"So I was told," she agreed, smiling at her. "I'm not as uptight as some, dear. Don't worry about it. Hannah's a beautiful child."
"Who's changing schools or else I'm going to slit my wrists," Hannah offered. Abby glared at her. "Oh, they didn't tell you," she said dryly, coming down and pulling up the back of her shirt. "The chemistry teacher decided we're playing with acid for the next few classes and flicked some at my back." She went back up to the chair once the small burns were recovered with her shirt. Bryon looked and hissed, then went to get something to put on it, making her sigh in relief. "That's so nice, what is that?"
"Sunburn lotion, sweetie. Did you complain?"
"Again. The third time this month," Hannah agreed.
"Does Gibbs know?" Abby asked.
"I told both of them. Daddy put some aloe stinky stuff on it last night. You were napping by then. Matt's got worse, his spilled thanks to his lab partner, the brat." Abby moaned. "It's down his leg."
Abby pulled out her phone, calling him. "Matt, it's Abby. Are you all right? No, I just now heard about the lab class disaster. How's your leg?" She grimaced. "Want us to take you to see someone since he's at work? I can do that. No, she's here with Mrs. Craws, and they're going shopping but I will *gladly* come get you to get that seen if you need it. Please, dear. Hey, I'm her mom, what else am I gonna do?" She smiled. "Sure, twenty minutes." She hung up and handed Bryon her wallet, getting it waved off. "You're sure?"
"I'm sure. She overpaid me the last time. She called it a twenty-five dollar tip." He looked at her, then at Abby. "Take care of that young man. I like Matt, he's sweet."
"He is," she agreed, smiling and heading off to pick him up in a cab and take him to see Ducky. Ducky's mother met them at the door and Abby gave her a gentle smile. "Mrs. Mallard, this is Ducky's protege, Matthew. Is he in?"
"Ducky's out back, dear," she said, looking at her. "Do I know you?"
"Mrs. Mallard, I'm Matt, I'm the one who sent you the carnations," Matt told her, giving her a gentle smile. "I need to ask Ducky a technical question."
"Oh, I suppose it's all right then. You don't look like a thug, even if your escort does."
"It's a concussion. I'm supposed to be on the couch," Abby admitted, smiling and leading Matt back to the kitchen and into the backyard. "Ducky!" she called, waving at him. He was weeding on the other side of the garden. "Matt got sprayed with acid during class and they didn't treat him at all!"
"Not true, the nurse spread some creme on it, not that it helped but she tried," he admitted as Ducky came closer. "Hannah's got a few drops on her back from the teacher. I've got one on the back of my neck. The teacher put me with Tiffy, who bounced the table on purpose while I was measuring."
"Let me see, Matthew." He pulled up his sweatpants leg, earning a hiss. "That's fairly nasty. Come into the work area. Let's see if I have something."
"I wanted to know if I should take him to a quick care place or the ER," Abby offered.
"The ER might be a better idea," he admitted, leading them to his work area. He found something in there and handed it over. "Spread that on for now. What sort of acid?"
"Um, something just below hydrochloric? He said that would eat bones, this only eats skin, like the plagues of old and how ebola created sores."
"Generally not true. I've seen both really." He looked at his neck, spreading some of the aloe on that as well. "I told Tony to use some of that on Hannah's spots."
"She showed me this morning. They're red and sore. Bryon put some sunburn creme on it and it made her sigh in relief."
Ducky nodded. "I want the notes, Matthew." He handed them over. He sat down to read them, glaring at the paper, then at him. "He flicked you with what?"
Matt shrugged. "Not like either of us are good in chemistry, Ducky. I'm doing good when I don't tip the table myself."
"We're heading to the ER. That must be stopped and the only way is to get it reported. Should we send for Hannah as well?"
"We could but hers are kinda small and mostly on her lower back," Abby admitted.
Matt looked at her. "She got hit on her shoulders. What injuries on her lower back?" The adults looked at him. "He flicked her in the same place he got me and two others, neck and shoulders. Hers was basically between her shoulderblades but over the spine mostly."
Abby shook her head. "She had some on her lower back too."
Matt called her. "Lower back injuries?" he demanded, listening to her whisper something. "Take the phone into the bathroom. I'm sure Bryon won't mind you taking a break for two minutes." She sighed but did as ordered. "Now, give, brat. Who got your lower back?" He growled and tensed up, then winced as his leg tightened. "I'm going to kill him," he noted quietly. "Ducky's taking me to the ER with your mom. Meet us there, Hannah. Which ER, Ducky?"
"Bethesda. Now, woman. Do I care!" he demanded. "Hannah, I swear to God, you'll be there or I'm going to see Gibbs myself at the office." She whimpered and hung up. "She'll be there." He looked at Abby. "Long story, you'll hear it from her." He looked at Ducky. "Are you coming too?"
"I should, yes." He walked them out. "How did you two get here, Abigail?"
"Cab." She smiled at him. "Can we hitch a ride too, Ducky?"
"Of course. I don't want you to drive while your head hurts." He got them into the car and headed out, taking them to the Naval Medical Center. Matt's father was a contractor for the Navy, they'd treat him, and Hannah would definitely be treated there. Plus, the school would not be stopping their reporting to the proper authorities. He pulled in and saw Hannah getting out of a very fashionable car, smiling at the matron walking her inside. "Come along." He walked them inside. "Hannah, dear, let me see." He looked at a nurse, who gave him a horrified look. "Hannah DiNozzo and Matthew Pierce. His father's a contractor, her father's NCIS. We need a room please. They've gotten hurt in school." That nurse nodded and went to clear one for them. He smiled at the matron. "Elizabeth."
"Ducky." She kissed him on the cheek. "What happened?"
"Bad teachers," he said plainly. "Very bad teachers." Another nurse came out and led them to a private room, letting him look at both teenagers in there. "Off with whatever clothing is covering the injuries."
"I'm only wearing briefs, Ducky," Matt protested. Abby handed him a paper gown from the drawer. "Gee, thanks." He slid it on then out of his pants, letting Ducky have complete control over his leg. Hannah got another one and changed out of her shirt so Ducky could see.
Abby motioned her closer, looking underneath the gown's front, then at her. "I want to hear this story."
"No you don't."
"Yeah, I do. And I might go Gibbs on someone, but I want to know the full and complete story or else I'm asking Matt." She looked at her daughter. "Who is it?"
"Excuse me? The boy you were kinda seeing?" she asked. Hannah sighed and nodded. "Was this a transfer accident, like snuggling after lab class?" She nodded quickly but Matt snorted and shook his head. "Okay, conflicting stories here."
"He's a fucking psycho and he wants to hurt her for being prettier than his sister and smarter," Matt said, glaring at her when she turned to look at him. "He's Tiffy's little brother. Jumped a year ahead due to his brains. Stupid little serial killer wannabe. I have no doubt he had on gloves and put it on her on purpose."
"Not true! He spilled it by accident."
"Really? I was wondering why your basket was light for laundry," Abby said dryly, looking at her.
"The silk got mostly eaten through," she sighed, sitting on the table again, letting Ducky see both sides of her.
Matt looked and groaned, shaking his head. "She openly spilled it on you and they didn't do anything. They didn't do anything when I complained about him."
"Where does this young student's parents work?" Mrs. Craws asked. "Perhaps your father could say something if they're military."
"His daddy's a Colonel," Matt said bitterly. "Army."
Ducky snorted. "Then I know of the children you speak of," he admitted. "I will be having words with them." Someone tapped on the door. "In a moment. We're busy." Tony walked in and shut the door behind him, earning a scared look from his daughter. "Another problem with a few students and a teacher."
"I heard about the teacher. I was going to ask Matt how the other burns got there."
"Temple," he said firmly. "Tiffy got me." He let him see his leg. "I'm a bit sore."
Tony looked then nodded once. "Hannah?" She gave him a miserable look. "You didn't trust me?"
"You'd kill him," she said quietly. "Then I'd lose you."
He walked over to hug her. "I don't have to kill him, princess, just make his life a living hell." He kissed her on the forehead. "You're both coming back to the office with us. You'll be filling out reports about *everything* those two have done. Plus the whore who's been trying to get Matt for other things. Then we will contact the proper people and deal with it without having to fire our weapons." Hannah looked at him. "If at all possible. The local cops might, but I won't have to. Neither will Jethro." She nodded, leaning against his chest. "Do we need to have a further talk?" She whispered something and he looked at Matt. "Emails?"
"I have them on CD in my room," he admitted patiently. "You were going to get them next Friday, I figured they'd be doing something right before break started to keep their high. He hadn't gone to physical violence or else I'd have kicked his ass already." Tony nodded at that. "I figured break would allow you to do it more quietly instead of storming the school Monday morning."
"Hmm, fat chance of that not happening to the science teacher. We'd do it specially just for him," he assured him dryly, earning a smirk back. He smiled at the Matron. "Thank you for bringing her. I'm sorry she can't go out with you today."
"No, this is something that should be taken care of. I was almost worried that she didn't tell you."
Hannah looked at her. "I can't lose him because he'd shoot someone. I can't. Then I won't have anyone. They wouldn't let me stay with daddy and mom."
Abby hugged her. "Fat chance you're getting out of my sight ever again," she assured her, making her relax. "Besides, even if they did have to fire their weapons, it'd be called a good shoot most likely. We're pretty good about that at NCIS as long as there's a good reason." Hannah relaxed and nodded. "Now, anything else?" Hannah whispered in her ear. "Who has those?"
"Matt. He confiscated it."
"Yeah, my dad thought I was doing the trashy porn thing," Matt admitted dryly. "It's been harassment so far but no one's listened to her but me. Do I have to tell my dad?"
Tony snorted. "Ya think?" He called him. "Steve, Tony DiNozzo. Matt's here at Bethesda with Hannah. We're treating them for the chemical burns they got from science class yesterday and your son's been keeping track of the junior psycho who's been after Hannah. We're just now finding this out. No, burns down his leg. Yeah, that leg." He looked at him. "He thought you had pulled a muscle again."
"No, Tiffy rocked the table while I was measuring the acid for our experiment. The ones on my neck he wondered about are from the teacher." Tony winced at the yelling through the phone. "Dad, that porn stuff was stuff Hannah got sent," he offered once he had the phone. "We need it and we need the blank looking CD in the case labeled 'terror'. Yeah, that one. No, at the office. Tony said we're filing official complaints." Tony nodded at that. "Because the super junior psycho brat transferred acid to her back and stomach, dad. Beyond what the teacher did." He hissed. "Ow. No, dad, Ducky just put something on one of the burns. I'm fine. See you there. Sure." He hung up and handed it back. "My dad doesn't swear often but he's on a roll. You might wanna warn Gibbs."
"He'll know when we bring you guys in," he promised dryly. He looked at Ducky. "Is this going to scar?"
"Probably not, maybe a small one. It shouldn't disfigure her any."
"That's fine. Scars can be removed," Hannah said quietly, looking at her mentor. "I'm sorry you got dragged into this."
"I'm not, dear. Next time, trust your parents or me. You could have come to me about this, or them." She nodded, accepting that. She kissed her on the forehead. "You'll let me know what's going on, correct, Anthony?"
"Good. Then I'll see you in a few days, Hannah. I doubt you'll be in school this week."
She shook her head. "Me either." She got a smile and Mrs. Craws left. "Sorry, mom. Dad."
"It's all right," he promised. "It's a normal fear for you to worry about that sort of thing happening. I'm sure that's why Matt didn't tell his dad."
"My dad will kill them all," Matt assured him. "He'll take great pleasure in it. I didn't tell him because I knew he'd torture them first." Another male came in. "We're good with just Ducky doing it," he offered.
"I'm checking to see if he needs anything, son." He looked at the burns, then winced. "Chemistry accident or making drugs?" Tony glared at him, making him back off. "Sorry. Had to ask."
"Psychotic chemistry teacher and fellow students," Hannah said coldly. "Leave. Now." He ducked back out. "I hate judgmental assholes."
Her father nodded. "Me too."
"He's only a resident, children," Ducky said soothingly as he finished with Matt's leg. "He'll learn better soon enough. I'm sure of it." He got to work on Hannah's burns, shaking his head. "What did he use on your neck?"
"Sunburn creme." She pulled the small tube out of her pants pocket and handed it over. "That stuff."
He read the ingredients. "Not too terribly bad." He got to work on hers, spreading on the appropriate gel.
Gibbs looked up as the elevator went off, frowning slightly. His team was on call so they had to be here, but Tony hadn't called to say he was coming back from Bethesda yet with the kids, or why they had went there with Ducky. Of course, the steaming mad father coming off the elevator told him it wasn't a pleasure trip by any means. "Tony said they were injured in class." Steve snorted and handed over two CDs." What's this?" he asked as he ran the first one.
"Emails Matt saved down from Hannah's stalker. The one who splashed her with acid yesterday. Beyond what the teacher did." Gibbs looked up at him, slowly standing up. "The other is the porn I confiscated. I thought my son had really raunchy taste but apparently the same little junior serial killer was sending it to her and he was covering. She didn't say anything?" Gibbs slowly shook his head. "Why?"
McGee sighed, looking at him. "Matt called me Tuesday to see how he should save down the emails from her account. He was going to bring it in next week," he offered. "She's deathly afraid that Gibbs and Tony will go ballistic and shoot the people involved, thereby making her an orphan since Abby can't claim any legal rights to her custody at the moment. Matt also said that he was bringing it to us next week because the week after was break. That way we didn't have to go commando in the school, his words." He looked at Gibbs. "He never told me it was more than annoying harassment by a boy. I figured he'd know and had it well enough in hand that he'd tell someone, like his father, if it got beyond that. The teacher thing.... Ziva?"
"Hannah called me about the acid used in class. She wanted to know how to treat a minor burn. It's just under hydrochloric acid and as a demonstration of how bad and evil it was, the teacher flicked a few drops at some of the students. Hannah had one on the back of her neck. She said Matt had a few as well, but then she clammed up when I asked where." She looked at his father. "They were obviously protecting each other. They're as close as siblings most of the time."
Steve calmed down a bit. "It got a bit worse than that. Tiffy, she of the problems a few years back, tipped some onto his leg. Abby took him to see Ducky and they went to Bethesda. Tony called me." He looked at Gibbs. "He didn't sound happy either."
"Oh, he's not the only one," he admitted. "McGee, run these. Let's see how bad it is and what we know on this family." He came over to get the CDs and took them back to run them for him. "Who? Tiffy and Temple Darling?" Steve nodded at that. "Wonderful. What branch is he in?"
"Army. He's a colonel."
"Even better," he growled, calling someone. "Get here now." He hung up. "Steve, coffee's in the break room. It'll take a few minutes to pull together an information file. Go get some." He nodded, going to do that. "McGee?"
"I've already started the background on the Darlings. He's a colonel in the Army, Infantry. His wife is a stay at home mom. She's been spending a lot of time with the base's doctors. A few visits to Bethesda." Tony and the kids came off the elevator with Ducky and Abby behind them. "You should have told me it was more serious than that!"
"Told you!" Gibbs said, glaring at them.
"She was scared I'd shoot them," Tony said quietly, ending Gibbs' anger. "I assured her I'd stop at making them fucking miserable and laughing." He leaned down to hiss in his ear, getting a nod. "So yes, it's bad. How bad, McGee?"
"Um, working on that. Steve just brought the information files."
Matt came over and pulled up a file. "Hannah ran one already for you. She found some fairly disturbing things. Tiffy got kicked out of two other schools for violence against someone. One was a teacher, one was another student." McGee put that up on the main screen when his father came back. "I protected her, dad. You'd have known next week with them. That way no one could go commando in the school when they went to kill those two kids and the science teacher."
His father hugged him. "I'd have helped quietly if you had brought this to me, son. I applaud the reason but not the methodology."
"Yes, dad. Grounded?"
"Oh, that too," he assured him. He looked at Hannah. "Are you all right?"
"Mostly scared. He scares me." She looked at her parents. "I was going to come to you guys next week, that way it could be done quietly. As far as we can tell, he's only bothering me."
"Besides, we tried to report it to another teacher and he scoffed," Matt offered dryly, looking at his father. "We tried to talk to the headmistress, she thought we were whining about the teacher's conduct because of bad grades."
Tony growled and stomped off. "I haven't seen him that mad since the day he found out about us," Hannah said quietly. "Daddy!" She ran after him, and he turned to hug her. "I'm sorry."
"Not your fault, princess," he assured her. "I'm not mad at you. I have absolutely no anger at you. Some disappointment that you didn't come to me about this sooner, so we could have protected you better, but no anger at you for this. The school however, them I'm going to destroy." He stroked her cheek, getting a small smile. "Let me go wear this out. I'll be right back. You and Matt take some of the snacks out of my desk while I'm beating the crap out of the heavy bag." She nodded, going back to do that. He went to wear out some anger, before he called someone to hurt that family greatly. Because he knew people who would. He came back ten minutes later and handed his lovers his phones and phone book. "I'm not allowed to use those until they're caught," he said more calmly. "I mean it." He looked at the kids, who were sharing a granola bar, then at the screen. He sighed, looking it over. "I can see so many ways of hurting them."
Steve looked at him. "I thought your family was in business, Tony."
"They were, doesn't mean her godmother wasn't into the weapons business. Doesn't mean I didn't go to school with two different scions of some very important mafia families. And a few daughters at one school. Doesn't mean I don't have contacts from my three cities where I was a cop who'd do it for ten grand and enjoy the hell out of the torture," he admitted quietly, looking at him. "That's why they have my phone and phone books." Fornell and the director came off the elevator. "We called you two?"
"No, Ducky called me," Tobias admitted. "I was in the meeting with her when I got it. She insisted she could help."
"Know anything about acid burns?" Matt asked dryly. "Tony's pretty well got the corner on torture and maiming at the moment."
She looked at them. "Acid burns?" They nodded and Matt pulled up his pantsleg, earning a sickened look. "How did that happen?"
"Tiffy. Bitch thing that's my lab partner." He ate another bite and let Hannah have the rest. "I was protecting her from her little brother, Temple."
"Wonderful," Tobias said, looking at the kids. "You didn't tell me?"
"You'd tell daddy and they'd shoot them. Then I'd lose them," Hannah said quietly.
Fornell looked at her, then walked over to give her a hug. "I'd cover for him, princess. So would Gibbs. No one would find the bodies to charge him. You'll never lose him over something like this." She gave him a look and he smiled, prompting one from her. "That's better. How bad are yours? Because his look like a napalm injury I saw a few years ago."
"Some on her stomach and back," Ducky offered, handing over pictures. "We let the nurse there take the preliminary report and pictures for the official police report, Jethro. At least against the teacher. She wanted to hurt him."
Gibbs nodded. "Sounds like a plan to me. Can we arrest him?" he asked Fornell. "Or is that your area?"
"Yours. They're Navy dependants and that's yours."
"Good." He stood up and grabbed his gun, making Hannah flinch. "It's procedure I carry it. It doesn't mean I'll use it, Hannah," he said calmly. "Ducky, you and Fornell stay here with Abby and the kids." He looked at Abby. "How's your head?"
"Sore, but I'm good enough if you need me."
"Good. Let's go."
"On your six, boss," Tony agreed, grabbing his weapons and heading after him. He gave his daughter a look, getting a nod back. "It'll be okay."
"Yes, sir." She finished the granola bar and leaned against Matt's side, letting him cuddle her as they headed into the elevator. She looked at her mother and uncle. "I didn't want to upset anyone."
Abby snorted. "Psheah," she said dryly. "Like this wasn't going to cause a blood pressure spike, guys. Even if you hadn't been splashed like that. Gibbs hasn't gotten to threaten anyone in a week. Tony in even longer. They're going to enjoy this. Fornell, she did the background for us. It's on the CD at McGee's desk." He went to look it over. Abby looked at the director. "Should you call JAG? Or should we wait?"
"I'll call now, get someone set up to handle this since they're an Army family." She sat down at Ziva's desk to do that, talking quietly.
"Hannah, how did you get this psych profile?" Tobias asked.
"Um, truth or pretty lie?" she asked back. He glared at her. "I hacked."
"You can hack?" Abby asked.
"Well, yeah. After watching you and Uncle Tim for so many years, and the computer teacher's help.... yeah. By the way, he's the one teacher we both like in the school."
"You two are so changing," Abby promised. "Break or middle of the semester or not." She took Steve to make some calls from her office. She had the list of schools and they would be attending somewhere else within a week. Or else she was going to throw a fit that'd make her head hurt forever.
Gibbs sat on the edge of Hannah's bed later that night. "You know you can come to us for anything, right? Even if you're scared of what'll happen. Even if it's a bad thing." She nodded. "Good. You're still grounded, but good." He pushed some of her hair back behind her ear. "We're not mad that you waited, kiddo, but we're not too happy about it."
"If something happens to dad, you and mom don't have any legal right to keep me."
"We've got paperwork for that," he assured her. She shook her head. "No?"
"No. The Virginia court just ruled against something like that. They said it's not a legal thing since it was a trio so the power of attorney paperwork wasn't legal either."
"Hmm. Well, I'll take it up with our lawyer Monday, but I'm pretty sure it'll hold up. It's not like anyone would contest it, Hannah. In that case, if I remember right, there was other family contesting it." She nodded. "See, that's the hitch here, huh?" he asked, realizing it. She nodded again. "I'm sorry, princess. I know it sucks."
"Yeah," she admitted quietly. "I can't lose you guys. I'll shut down permanently."
He kissed her on the forehead. "Even if the worst thing happened and we all died, you'd go live with Tobias or Ducky," he said quietly. "Your dad set out a whole chain of people who'd take you in." She relaxed even more. "Let us handle the grown up stuff. Enjoy being a teenager again." She nodded, giving him a small smile. "But you're still grounded." He kissed her on the forehead again. "Try to sleep. We'll be up and around for a while longer."
"Take daddy and cuddle him. He needs it, dad."
"I know he does. We're doing that on the couch."
"Are you three going to keep me up?"
He snorted and shook his head. "Not if you'd go to sleep, princess. You sleep like the dead." He stood up and tucked her in again, then headed out there to cuddle with Tony and Abby, deciding to put Tony between them. "She's fine."
"I know she is. I can't believe she didn't tell us."
"She was worried she'd lose the rest of her family, DiNozzo. Just like you would." Tony looked at him. "I remember when you drew up the paperwork. You were frantic about making sure they all agreed so she wouldn't be left alone. It's the same for her but she's got to worry that the paperwork will hold up and no stupid person will protest." Tony nodded, relaxing against him. "She's been following that one court case that you've been watching."
"It's a train wreck," he said quietly.
Gibbs patted him. "That had other family members. No one would protest who had custody of her if we all died. If they tried, Ducky would tell Fornell and Sheppard to kick their asses for him." Tony snorted at that, but it was a happier sound. "He would. He knows he couldn't do it so he'd do it for them." He stroked over Tony's other arm, smiling at Abby because she curled up with her head in Tony's lap. "Relax. It's solved. We got 'em and they're all going to jail for helping with that one kid's campaign to make Hannah pull strings for her. We're all good. She'll be fine. Everything worked out okay. So relax and quit thinking."
"I'm revising the emergency plans tomorrow," Tony offered.
Abby snorted. "You had better plan on taking us," she threatened. Tony smiled down at her. "I mean it. If you've got to take her and run, expect us within the month."
"It'll only take us a week to pack and do the paperwork," Gibbs told her.
"I said a month as an outer limit, Jethro." He smirked at that. "That way if they had to go into deep hiding, they could do that and we'd sneak in to join them instead of doing it more openly."
"The sad thing is, if I had ended up taking her before, I'd probably have ended up married to some native woman wherever we ended up as a cover," Tony said softly, stroking through her hair. "I wouldn't have thought about it."
"You're thinking about proposing?" Abby asked. He nodded. "Because of this?"
"For the last few months," he admitted. "I can't figure out how we'd do it without slighting someone though."
Gibbs snorted, giving him a squeeze. "She'll marry one of us and then we'll do something as a trio. We'll redo the paperwork and all that."
"Can you see either of us being the extra guy?" Tony asked him, looking at him. Gibbs considered it then shook his head slowly. He couldn't see himself as the guy that Abby was cheating on Tony with. "Like I said, it'd slight someone."
"So we'll skip the formal wedding and go right to the bonding," Abby suggested, taking his hand to play with. "That way there's no way someone can complain about one of us being the 'extra' man or woman."
"We don't live in Massachusetts," Tony reminded her. "It's only legal for Gibbs and I to marry if we live there." She shrugged at that idea. Someone knocked on the door so he groaned, getting up to get it. "What?" he asked before he got there.
"It's me." Tony opened the door, letting Matt in. "Dad's on a rip at the house. I'm not putting up with the drunken ranting. Can I borrow the couch?"
"Sure," he agreed, letting him head that way. "We were about to go to bed anyway." He patted him on the back gently. "You okay?"
"I'm fine. The creme is amazing. It doesn't even hurt." Tony grinned at that. "Thanks."
"I did the same thing a few times," he promised, helping Abby up. "Need more than sheets and pillows?"
"I know where Hannah keeps hers, I'll steal hers and make it up, plus there's throw pillows," he pointed out, going to do that.
Gibbs looked at him. "Don't watch tv all night, Matt." He walked his lovers into the bedroom, shutting them in, looking at Tony. "I'm hoping he left a note." Tony nodded. "How can you be sure?"
"He probably left it on top of the coffeemaker. He did the last time. It's not often his dad does this but he's done it once or twice before. That's how he knows where Hannah's spare sheets are." He pushed Gibbs onto the bed and climbed on top of him, getting a cuddle in. Abby curled up against his back, making him smile. "We should have a talk with those two about dating rules."
"Are they?" Abby asked.
"I'm foreseeing it," Tony said dryly. "They're really tight." He shrugged and snuggled in. "Hold me?" They grabbed on, keeping him there with them.
Hannah looked at the woman walking up to her father's desk, coughing to draw attention to her. "Headmistress."
"Hannah. You could have come to me."
"We did. You said it was bad student syndrome I do believe you called it." She went back to her reading.
Tim McGee looked over there, glaring his best impersonation of Gibbs. "Don't worry, she'll be going to an excellent school very soon."
"I thought we had one."
Hannah pulled up the front of her shirt, showing off the burns. "Not hardly." The headmistress gasped and moved closer. "Do not." She backed off. Hannah glared. "Matt has worse from an incident in class from another student. Did that get reported?"
"No, it didn't. Would you and Matthew give me two days to investigate?"
"The proper authorities have already been notified."
"I realize that since two of my teachers and a few others haven't come in today. Please give us a chance to make this right before you leave, Hannah." She shrugged and went back to her reading. "What's that?" She held up the book. "Economics? At your age?"
She snorted and looked at her. "I'm told three of the top schools on my list used this one last year. The others are mildly less academically striving but that's fine. I could use some slacking now and then. Especially since I went over this one in fourth grade as well." She swallowed and nodded. "Talk to my father but he's out on a call. McGee got left to watch me this time."
"That's fine, I'll gladly do that," she promised quietly, going to call and leave a message for him. Then she went to gather some things to look over. Something had went dreadfully wrong this year. She was going to fix it.
Hannah got comfortable again. "Any id on the body yet? I can start a background."
"Gibbs said you're not old enough to work yet," he reminded her. "Besides, I'm already doing one." She put down her book and came over to help. "I can do this."
She kissed him on the cheek and typed in a web address, making him blink. "I get a lot off of there at times," she said quietly. "It's got sites linked to it as well that are very helpful." He nodded, going back to it. "Last name first usually works best." He corrected that and went back to it while she leaned against his arm. "Do you think she's fixing it in the hopes I give money some year?"
"That's probably at the back of her mind but if she truly cares about that school and her students, she wants to fix it for them," he advised. He looked at her. "Not everything in life is about money at the institutional level."
"Point." She pointed at something. "Hit that link." He hit it and came up with the guy's gaming history. "Isn't that about how they found him?"
"It is," he agreed, copying that down and putting it onto the main screen, then going on with that link. It could prove to be very useful.
"Are you playing games at work?" the director asked as she walked past them.
"No, ma'am, the body was found in approximately that position by the pictures we were sent for notification. That's his online icon in a gaming system. I thought it might have something to do with it. I'm getting into that right now for when the boss comes back."
"Good idea." She went to talk to the secretary. "I haven't gotten paperwork all morning."
"They're all caught up," she admitted with a smile.
"Then it's been a good experiment."
"She's staying part time," Hannah called. "Even if I have to pay for it. She can go four days a week and set up to do thirty hours."
"Not a bad idea," the director agreed. "Especially if she pays for it since we've got to upgrade the areas that the bomb destroyed." She looked up at MTAC. It had been wiped out. Then back at the secretary. "Would that suit you?"
"Yes, Director. Would I be allowed to move to agency staff once there was room in the budget?" The director nodded, smiling at her. "What about health insurance? I do have a son."
"I'll see if we can offer you the one we give to our part-time people." That got a small smile. "It's not the best but it's something for now. I'll arrange that with HR and Hannah."
"Thank you, ma'am."
"Not a problem. You do excellent work." She walked off, going to take Hannah to help her with the budget again. Someone had to keep on top of the current expenses. She did it so much easier than anyone on her staff did.
Gibbs walked in and looked at the screen. "What's that? Are we pulling an Abby on the crime scene photos up here?"
"No, boss, that's his online gaming icon. Hannah suggested it was in a similar position to the body. There were heated words online as well recently. I thought it might relate back."
"Well, he fell and broke his neck," he admitted. "But it's possible they're why he fell," he amended at the hurt look. "Finish tracking that down, McGee." He nodded, getting back to tracing any meetings. "What's that one about?"
"Knights, horses, and war games, boss."
Tony walked up and looked. "Interesting. I know Matt looked at that gaming series a few times but he called it nerd central and boring." McGee looked at him. "He did."
"He is a nerd," McGee assured him dryly, going back to it. "Hannah thought it might be related and I'm looking into it since she's got such good instincts. Especially since the picture someone sent us had him laying in the exact same position."
"He could have been positioned post mortem," Tony agreed thoughtfully. "Any idea if his gaming buddies met him recently?"
"Working on that right now, Tony."
"Good. Boss, want me to call the family?"
"Please." Tony nodded, going to do that while Gibbs came over to look over his shoulder. "Some of those nerds are good at strategy."
McGee looked up at him. "This is what they do in their off-hours, boss. Who knows how many of them are soldiers. I've run into two profiles that said they were cops."
"Very interesting." He memorized the address and sat down at his computer to look it over. He didn't understand reenactors but this sort of game, a mock battle, he understood as a training exercise.
Tony leaned over to look at it over his shoulder. "If you get sucked in like the Elf Lord over there, I'll have to complain and keep Abby all to myself," he whispered. Gibbs shivered and nodded. "Otherwise, play away if you want." He stood up straighter. "Parents aren't home. I left a tasteful message of please call NCIS, we need to speak to you about your son."
"His parents are traveling a lot," McGee admitted. "They're a singing religious group. I sent you their website address. Maybe it's got an itinerary or something." Tony nodded, going to look at that and call that church to see if they were at the show they were due at tomorrow. McGee looked up. "Two of the others he was arguing strategy with did meet with him, boss. They set it up for 2100 last night. There's also a transcript saying that he hadn't been there."
"He died about then according to Ducky," Gibbs admitted. "Where were they to meet?"
"Other side of the park. Was he taking a shortcut?"
"Not really. It would've brought him out by the stream." He shrugged. "Track them down and talk to them, McGee. You understand this stuff much better than I do."
"Yes, boss." He found their contact emails and sent an official one about their gaming partner, requesting a callback and noting if he didn't hear from them within a reasonable time, they'd be seeing him soon in person. One called almost immediately. "NCIS, McGee speaking." He smirked. "Thank you. Yes we do. No, it was noted that you were due to meet with another gamer last night, but he's ended up dead. Yes, that would be fine. Please. The transcripts would be most helpful as well. Thank you. Do you know the other one?" He smiled. "That's even better, sir. Thank you." He hung up. "It's him and his little brother. He's going to drag his brother out of class." He stood up. "They're bringing records of all their chats and will be here within the hour, boss."
"Finish your preliminary report, including all that stuff, and then go lurk, McGee."
"Thanks, boss." He sat down to do that, then went to lurk at the entrance.
Hannah walked out onto the walkway and leaned on the railing. "Daddy, she said you'd be bored after ten days of talking to a bunch of kids like Matt. She also said that they can't use your skills."
"Sounds like you'll need your own computer, boss," Tony teased.
"I'll borrow hers when she's grounded next time," he shot back. "Remind her you're not her assistant, you're your father's, and that she's already got a calculator so she can do the addition herself, Princess."
She snorted. "I'm helping decide who's going to do the reconstruction, dad. Chill." She went back in there.
"Let's hope MTAC doesn't end up with blue christmas lights and winged fluffy cats like her room," Tony joked. McGee snickered at that. "It is. She and Abby went on a minor redecorating binge."
"Her cat has decided laying on the back of the large, stuffed jaguar is a happy thing," Gibbs agreed, cracking him up further. "Fortunately we were able to banish the cat that made it's way into our room."
"You know, she complained about that for three days," McGee offered as he came back for his coffee. Gibbs and Tony both nodded at that.
Gibbs looked at Tony. "Where is your office now that you had to give up that other apartment?"
"Downstairs on the third floor."
Gibbs stared. "Really?" Tony nodded, grinning at him. "Why? You could put it in the regular one."
"I want to keep that part of me separate, boss. Otherwise I could get sucked in again. Oh, I've got to hit the IRS next Monday. They said so." Gibbs nodded at that. "So I've got to print off my transactions from my trading for the last few months. This is just a routine meeting they said." Gibbs nodded more slowly. "I have two a year usually."
"I remember the last one. You cleaned for six days straight."
"I haven't done that good in the last six months, boss."
"Why not? Losing your touch?"
"No, not enough time to micromanage this time." He logged into his trading site, looking at something. He sold a few then and there, then added in another ten. He stared and bought back two of the ones he had dumped, prompting them to go up a bit. He waited, reloading it, then bought a hundred more shares in each of them, prompting it a bit higher. It started to go up again and he smiled. Even when it went back down later. He'd get back the two grand he lost in the others he had switched to. Besides, those were long-term buys. At the end of the day they had that case wrapped and he had made back the two grand plus a few more dollars, and those two stocks were on a better footing for future growth. He dumped the extra shares, but people were looking for quick growth so they were snapped up immediately. He leaned back, watching it. Then he clicked on one file, looking it over. It had lost about ten dollars today but otherwise it was good. He considered it and added in more money to the safer things, then reloaded it, smiling at the nice profits he had made for his lovers. He felt someone look over his shoulder. "There's a lot of sweaty people in the indexes around the world," he told his daughter.
"Docily was sentenced today," she agreed. "Morishma is sentenced tomorrow. Herbert took a deal last month. That led to a small flux. I may be good in accounting but I suck at this stuff." She kissed him on the cheek. "I'm not allowed to import any lights or cats, daddy. She heard you." He grinned at her. "I should sulk."
"Never mind." She reloaded it and giggled. "Someone doesn't like you." She got into the system and hit back at the hacker, making him put it all back. It started a small war but he relented when she pointed out she was an FBI trainee and he had BETTER stop it. Everything got put back where it should be and Tony called the company's number to warn them a hacker had gotten in and his daughter, the future Fed, had stopped them. He reloaded his account, finding it locked, and shrugged. He answered their email, pointing out he was calling in to inform them of it. Then he left it there for the night. He'd go down to micromanage it later. He had money in a few other brokerages as well. He took his daughter home, heading to the lower apartment while she went to talk Gibbs through logging online to the gaming site. He sat down to get into everything, finding most everything was doing all right. The real retirement funds were doing a lot better than the publically found ones. He shifted some things around and sat back to watch the impact of the sentencing on the indexes' after hours numbers. A few were worrying but he moved things out of there casually, not in a blind panic like most everyone else would be tomorrow. He noticed some of the bigger corporations were stepping in and so was another heavy hitter, the person who had taken over Docily's position. He sent him an email, getting back an 'I understand and thank you for taking him out of my way' retort. Not like they liked each other but they understood each other.
Gibbs came down an hour later with a plate of food and looked over his shoulder. "Is that bad or good?"
"Both. This one is really bad for tomorrow," he admitted, taking his plate and eating a bite. He looked at it, then at his boss. "You made pasta?"
"She wanted pasta. Abby too." He shrugged and moved to work on his shoulders while he studied the screens. "Where's the place you invested some of our money on us?"
"Two places, Jethro. This one," he said, clicking on that screen, "and this one. That one's more publically found and a hacker was trying it earlier. It's getting a modest rate of return and I put the majority of it there. The other is in a higher risk, therefore higher return, account." He clicked back to that. "I'm withdrawing it all once it drops below earning three percent interest monthly." He ate another bite and tipped his head to the right, letting him have access to a knot.
"You could still do this upstairs."
"I'd do this and not hang with you two or Hannah."
"No you wouldn't." He took a kiss. "It'd be fine if you did, Tony."
"I need to keep them separate. That one flunking semester I learned that lesson very well. This is all I did all day. Of course, I made about a half-mil but then again I flunked four classes."
Gibbs hugged him around the neck. "Finish up and come upstairs soon." Tony nodded, moving a few things around. That balanced it back out. He logged off and headed up with him, going to spend time with his family. Abby looked up from the couch, sniffling. "What's wrong? Did someone call to threaten her or something happen to Matt?" Abby broke out in real tears, and nothing Hannah could do was stopping it. "Hannah?"
"She came up positive on a bunny test." Then she grinned maniacally. "She's not the most happy but I'm kinda giddy. Is this feeling why people take drugs?" Abby nodded, wiping her eyes off. "It's all right, I'll do everything I can and I'll be a good big sister." She gave her another hug and got up to brag to Matt and her Uncle Tobias.
Abby sniffled. "I hate you both."
"I know you do," Tony agreed, hugging her. "I'll get to fuss from day one," he said happily.
She punched him on the arm, making him pout. "Don't do that!" she complained. "I'm the pregnant one."
"You are and we'll baby you for the next year," Tony promised, kissing her gently. "When are you going to see your doctor?"
"I'll call tomorrow." She pouted at Gibbs, who only hugged her. "I'm not happy."
"I know, but you'll be happier later," he promised, kissing her gently. "Want a hot bath?" She nodded so he went to run it while Tony broke out the good ice cream from the back of the freezer, where Matt couldn't find it, and got her a bowl with chocolate and mint sauces. She smiled and trudged that way.
Tony went to pounce his daughter and do a happy dance in her room. Gibbs opened the door and gave them a look. "What? I've been begging and praying for a sibling," Hannah defended. "I'm allowed to be happy."
Gibbs shook his head and came in to hug his insane ones. Then he went back to spoiling Abby for the night. He knew very well Tony'd be taking over tomorrow. He loved to spoil them.