“Tony, give it back to me!” Ziva David growled as her partner held her cell phone out of her reach. “Give it to me or I will break your neck!”
Special Agent Jethro Gibbs walked up behind Tony DiNozzo and smacked him on the back of his head. He only leveled a look at Tony before continuing on his way to his desk. Sitting down, Gibbs squinted his eyes to read one of the messages that was left for him while he was away before crumbling it up and throwing it in the garbage.
“Oh, I don’t like that look…” Tony said. “See the look on Gibbs’s face, Ziva? What’s up, boss?”
“What do ya think, DiNozzo?” Gibbs he asked back before turning his cell phone off and throwing it in his desk drawer.
“I don’t know, that’s why I’m asking,” Tony rolled his eyes and sat down behind his desk. “But if I have to make a guess, Abby hasn’t stopped looking for aliens.”
At his desk, McGee started to cough and tried to sneak away from the area before falling victim to more jokes about his off duty interests.
“McSpaceman!” Tony called out. “It was your job to convince Abby that there’s no such thing as aliens!”
“Have you ever tried talking to a brick wall?” Timothy McGee sighed. “I’ve even tried to sabotage her computer, as in trying to lock her out from doing certain things, but she always finds a way around it.” He shrugged. “Besides, she’s focusing on conspiracy theories now, about missing or killed in action Marines where there’s no official record of them ever being deployed outside the States.”
This caught Gibbs’s attention and he raised his head. “What do you mean?”
“Well, at first she… well… we, thought that they were black ops Marines, and that our clearance would be too low to find out about it, but sometimes it just seemed as if they disappeared into thin air, no paper trails, no usage of credit cards, just POOF.”
He looked at McGee. “Were any of these people reported missing?”
“No, that’s the weirdest thing,” Tim replied and slowly sat down again. “And it’s not just Marines, it’s Air Force as well.”
Ziva raised an eyebrow and shook her head. “That doesn’t mean anything. We just can’t start looking into conspiracy theories when there are no reports filed.”
“Well, Abby likes to do these things while she waits for her machines to be done, or when she’s bored and doesn’t have anything to process.” Tim shrugged. “It’s not like she’s hacking into things.”
“But you are, aren’t you, tiny Tim?” Tony grinned. “You never get caught!”
“Until now,” Vance’s voice sounded. He was just as sneaky as Gibbs. “It has to stop,” he said, crossing his arms over his chest. “As I’ve already informed Miss Sciuto, but thanks to your unsanctioned digging into things that are classified, your computers are scheduled to be taken and replaced.”
SecNav had come down hard on him, for letting his agents and people roam loose like that, not knowing that Vance had no idea what they were talking about. “You have no idea how embarrassing it is when you get confronted by things that your agents are doing right under your nose.”
“Director, aren’t you over-reacting?” Gibbs asked, amused.
“Agent Gibbs, you have no idea what kind of deep shit you’re all in.”
“Wait, ALL of us?” McGee asked, shocked. “Why?”
Tony shook his head as he dug through one of his drawers. “All for one, and one for all.”
“Thanks to your poking, Homeland Sec-” The sound of the elevator made Vance turn around to face the people walking in. “Ah, I’ll let them explain.”
Ziva turned in her seat to see what was going on. She was confused at what the issue was other than the fact she knew that McGee’s hacking was wrong. What was intriguing was the fact that his attempt stirred such a strong reaction from Director Vance. Two men walked out and for some reason, as Tony would put it, triggered her ‘spidey sense’ of people who could be extremely dangerous. Especially the one.
Back at the SGC, John hadn’t asked for this, he knew nothing really about the computers on Earth, despite having been back for a year now. He and Teyla didn’t have a computer, nor a laptop, mostly because John was afraid that it could be used to spy on them. He was certain that this was a test from General Landry, to see how he’d react or something, and he was happy to oblige. Plus it took him out of Colorado Springs for a while.
Teyla had stayed home, as John was accompanied by Ronon for this – hopefully – short trip to Washington. All he needed to do was copy the hard drives and wipe them clean with a single device that had been given to him by Landry. In and out again.
It also meant that he had to wear his dress blues again, and Ronon had made fun of him on their way to the Navy yard from their hotel. “You look like a monkey in a monkey suit,” he had laughed. “You could have at least cut your hair a little.”
John had shrugged at that. His hair was fine and he knew that Ronon was just pushing his buttons. But so far, so good. Landry had sought contact with the NCIS director and gave him the heads up that his people were coming.
He had kept his sunglasses on his head because the NCIS building was so strangely lit, but he knew he had to take them off once they’d stepped out of the elevator as he wasn’t, and wouldn’t be, one of those people who wore sunglasses inside a building.
It was just him and Ronon on a mission, and it felt good. Until he walked into the bullpen and saw the director talking to the team that had created a mess for themselves by digging into the lives of enlisted personnel of the SGC.
Ronon muttered, “Oh, crap,” when his eyes fell on the woman who looked exactly like their Elsa, the woman his friend had spent the last year and more grieving for.
“Director Vance?” he asked in his no-nonsense voice.
“Yes,” replied the man in the middle of the group. “I’m Vance.”
“I’m Colonel John Sheppard, this is specialist Ronon Dex,” he introduced them. “I believe you’ve spoken to General Landry?”
“Their computers are all yours,” Vance nodded, knowing that there wasn’t anything he could do about it despite the furious faces of Gibbs and his team. “They were about to tell me that it won’t happen again.”
“No, it won’t,” John said, knowing that computer techs were already working on fixing the holes that this team had put in their firewalls.
“Agent David will escort you down to the lab once you’re done in here,” Vance added nodding to where Ziva sat.
John hadn’t paid attention to anyone except for the Director, because he knew he needed to focus and any distraction would likely cause him to fail whatever plans Landry had for him. Turning around, his eyes fell on a petite brunette. His mouth fell open slightly and color noticeably drained from his face.
“You okay, Colonel? You look like you just saw a ghost,” DiNozzo said as he stood from his desk. “Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo.”
“Huh? Oh, yeah, I’m fine,” John muttered after Ronon elbowed him hard in the ribs and growled lowly in warning. He decided to give the device to Ronon, as Landry had explained how it worked to them both. Ronon walked over to Agent DiNozzo’s desk to access his computer first. It would copy the drive and then wipe it clean as a whistle, according to the General. All John wanted now was to get out.
Shaking his head clear, he went over to the one agent’s desk to supervise as the team stood and waited in the middle of the floor whispering amongst themselves.
“Don’t shoot the messenger,” John said as he looked at Ronon doing his job while he had his hands in his pockets to stop them from visibly shaking. “But this is what you get from sticking your noses where they don’t belong.”
“The Marines that disappeared worked for you. Don’t you feel their families deserve solace?” Gibbs asked, staring him down.
“Their families are taken care of,” John replied simply, and then swallowed hard as reality was pounding at the gates and demanding to be let in, but he wouldn’t let it. “The Marines knew what they were getting themselves into, it’s not as if we kidnapped them.”
“Sheppard…” Ronon warned him and John shook his head, telling him that it was okay.
“However, we should be thankful to you guys,” he smirked. “Our techs didn’t realize that their firewalls were so outdated.”
McGee shook his head. “I wouldn’t say that. It was rather difficult actually. Abby spent the last, oh, I don’t know, year trying to find out …” He was silenced with a firm slap to the back of his head.
John signaled Ronon to go for McGee’s computer next, and kept his eyes anywhere but on that woman who looked just like Elsa. She looked so much like her that it was hard to stay focused with her around. “Once we’re done here, and in your lab, our techs will review the data and advise Homeland Security and SecNav on further proceedings,” John said. “Which could mean that someone might end up watching over your shoulders for a while.”
“I get the impression that you’re trying to cover up something,” DiNozzo said, narrowing his eyes. “Like the aliens at Area 51.”
Oh, if only they knew, John thought. “There’s no such thing as aliens, Agent – I forgot your name,” John replied with a grin as Ronon laughed.
“DiNozzo,” said Tony.
“I don’t think he cares, Tony,” McGee answered, eyeing Ronon and the device he used on his computer. “What is that?”
“Classified.” Ronon replied. “Eyes forward.”
Gibbs quickly realized that McGee had gotten them in big trouble this time, and looking at the Colonel and his specialist who appeared more like a killer, he was sure they weren’t dealing with just Homeland Security.
Ronon finished up with the other two computers before he looked back at his friend. John scratched at the back of his head as he avoided looking at the woman when he spoke. “Uhh, the lab?”
Ziva narrowed her eyes before getting a nod from Gibbs. “This way,” she said as she led them to the elevator, while her boss turned to head upstairs to talk to Vance as expected.
“It’s totally empty!” McGee cried out as soon as he got back to his seat to inspect the damage. “They wiped the entire hard drive!”
Sheppard looked up at his buddy, who was grinning almost gleefully. “You could have left them solitaire, you know.”
Ronon waved the device in the air. “The other one at the hotel has those settings. This one was the prototype,” he shrugged with a smile on his face.
Ziva watched the two men, strangers, visitors… as she stood behind them in the elevator. “You do not work for Homeland Security, do you?” she asked in a knowing tone. Mossad training was still very much a part of her in many ways and each agency had a certain feel. These men were more…
“Not directly, no.” Ronon replied. “What’s your name?”
She looked at them for a moment. “Ziva David.”
“Ronon,” John warned and took a deep breath when the elevator opened. They walked out to allow the woman to lead the way but within steps of the door, John was nearly blinded.
Ronon took Sheppard’s arm for a minute to make sure he wasn’t bumping into things, since the lights were brighter in this hallway for some stupid reason. “Careful.”
“Something wrong?” Ziva asked, looking back with curiosity and some concern.
John kept quiet and so did Ronon as he motioned for Agent David to lead the way to the lab.
Upon entering, they found a punky, dark-haired woman that didn’t look particularly happy. The was music blasting in the brightly lit room that nearly stopped Sheppard dead in his tracks.
“Can you kill the music and lights some?” Ronon asked, shoving John back out into the hallway.
“No,” the woman responded. “If you want something, then go and get it but I will not let you tell me what to do.”
John chuckled as he rubbed his eyes. “Good luck, Ronon.”
The Satedan looked back at him before turning back to the woman with a glare. Ziva stepped defensively in front of Abby and looked up at Ronon with an expression that reminded him of Teyla when she was pissed off.
Backing down some, Ronon waved back to the door. “Please?” he asked, hating having to play nice.
Abby saw the man was clearly in pain and frowned. “Fine. You do know that this doesn’t help your credibility about everything. Cover-ups and all…”
Ronon shrugged as he started to work on the computer of the woman who looked too old for pigtails. “You should be glad that you’re not being locked up,” he responded.
“Ronon!” John warned him from the hall way. “Play nice.”
“Whatever. Your prisons here are hell of a lot better than some we’ve seen,” he pointed out with a grin as he worked on the few stations in the room.
Once John was sure that he was prepared for the bright lights and noise in the woman’s lab, he walked in and leaned against the door post with a smirk on his face as he watched the tall Satedan work.
The woman with the pigtails kept trying to look over his shoulder to see what he was doing. Fortunately, Agent David was out of his sight right now, so that was one less thing to worry about.
Ronon couldn’t help but glance back occasionally at the Elsa look-a-like. What he wouldn’t give to know what his friend was thinking. Reaching down to disconnect the device, Abby noticed the tattoo he had on his arm and that was enough to shift her attention for awhile. She bombarded him with questions about it as they went to the section where her desk was to work on the computers there.
McKay had often tried to explain to him that there was a chance that you’d meet your twin one day, and that everyone had a twin or a copy walking around, one way or the other because humans were that complicated and nature had a funny sense of humor. John had never believed him, of course; it wasn’t scientifically proven and the papers Rodney had showed him were tales of personal experiences.
The only time John saw his own twin was his Asuran self, who was literally a copy of him down to his mannerisms. Same with the doppelganger in the dreams.
It hurt like hell to just look at Agent David, and so he tried not to, but he couldn’t help being curious. She carried herself differently than Elsa, like a fighter, like Teyla. He tried to spot other differences in order to tell himself that the universe had a twisted sense of humor, but failed to see them at the moment.
Ziva watched the Colonel from across the room, having assured herself that Abby was fine with other guy. She did not believe for anything that he was a computer specialist. Fairly certain that her team was already trying to find out who these two really were, she studied them more closely here. “You are not here willingly,” she pointed out conversationally.
John raised his head and looked around briefly before taking a breath and turning his attention on her. He did not answer immediately as he looked back at Ronon. “No.”
“Tell me something, is all this really necessary? Completely clearing out our computers? I doubt they actually found anything.”
“It is nothing personal. You don’t know what kind of information you may have come across – information you really do not want to know. I’m only following orders.” Please shut up! I can’t deal with this, John cried in his mind.
Ziva opened her mouth to say something but she knew all too well about following orders. Not just with Mossad and her father, but here too for NCIS. She was under orders to let them have access to the computers. “I doubt that they will give up,” she said quietly. “McGee and Abby are good people.”
“I believe that Agent David. I wish that we could just tell the world everything but some things just can’t be shared.”
They fell into silence for the next thirty minutes or so until Ronon walked out. “I’m done Sheppard. Can we get pizza?” he asked as he walked right past John to go to the elevator.
“Sure thing, Chewie. Pizza sounds good,” John replied, wanting to get the hell away from this building, the Navy yard and that Agent David. It hurt too much and he was tired of holding back the impulse to run away or freak out.
“So, you like pepperoni pizza?” Elsa laughed and shook her head. “Typical male.”
“What’s wrong with pepperoni?” John countered as he stabbed in the piece of meat that was laying on his tray; it was supposed to be beef but it tasted horrible and even barbecue sauce didn’t make it better.
“Pineapple with extra cheese,” she mused as she licked her lips. “I’d happily disregard the Hippocratic Oath for a pizza like that.”
“That good, huh?”
“Orgasmic,” Elsa nodded with a teasing smile on her face. “Especially from this one place in New York? Ohhhh…” She bit her lip as she looked at him with big eyes. “Now you’ve done it.”
“What?” he asked impishly.
“All that talk about food… and good food and extremely good chocolate…” she licked her lips. “Made me hungry…”
John pointed at her tray. “You haven’t even finished your dinner.”
“I don’t care, I’m hungry.” Elsa had started to run her foot up and down his pant leg, and when she said she was hungry she had gently put her foot in his crotch, which made him look at her in shock.
“Are you serious?” he stammered. “We agreed to have dinner because we almost spent the entire day…”
“Well, what can I say? I’m happy that you have a day off, and I’m a sucker for a good lollipop,” she said innocently. “Either eat that or follow me out of the mess hall,” she told him and got up to leave, wiggling her behind as he followed her out with his eyes.
“I’m in trouble now,” he chuckled to himself, and ran after Elsa.