Hunted – Part II

Status:
  • Complete
Content Rating:
  • NC-17
Fandom(s):
Stargate: Atlantis, Stargate: SG1, Spooks

Relationship(s):
John Sheppard/Rodney McKay, Jack O'Neill/Daniel Jackson

Warning(s):
  • Character Bashing
  • Death - Minor Character
  • Kidnapping
  • Murder
  • Violence - Canon-Level
Genre(s):
  • Action Adventure
  • Alternate Universe
  • Challenge Response
  • Crossover
Word Count:
31,640

Author's Note:
This was my response to the RT challenge 'A Whole New World' in November 2016. The challenge was 50,000 words. Hunted is 90,455. I guess I lost! Massive thanks to Edronhia, my beta and cheerleader, without whom this would never have been finished.

Summary:
Dr. Rodney McKay, Head of Research and Development at the UK’s top secret military research facility, has been kidnapped. MI5 Chief of Section Colonel John Fitz-Sheppard will lead the search for him, with the help of NCIS Senior Special Agent Tony DiNozzo, but it will take all the knowledge and skill of MI5 to keep their scientist alive and safe while the spooks try to discover who is behind the kidnapping and what they really want with Rodney.


 

Chapter Eight

 

John and Adam met with Harry in his office early on Thursday morning.  Tony, now armed, had remained at home to watch over Rodney who was almost back to his usual insouciant self.  Earlier that morning he had demanded to know when John would let him go back to work, explaining Radek was incapable of controlling the minions and who knew just what the idiots would do without him there to ride roughshod over them all.  John, for his part, pretty much ignored what Rodney said but was happy to hear him complaining. An uncomplaining Rodney was almost a portent of doom and John reckoned they had enough on their plates without signs that the world might be ending so he simply grinned at his partner, patted him on his head and made a swift exit before Rodney could launch into a diatribe against him.

Adam gave John a pointed look and demanded to know what made him so chipper at 7am.  John merely grinned a little wider and refused to say anything.

Harry glared at the pair of them and John toned down his grin a little, aware that not everyone was a morning person.

‘Acasta Kolya,’ Harry began, and John sobered immediately.

‘Have we found him?’

‘No, but Jack O’Neill, or rather Daniel Jackson, has come up with the name of someone who’s had a number of meetings with Kolya, but they’re reluctant to divulge the name at the moment.’

‘Why?’ demanded John and Adam together.

‘O’Neill couldn’t, or I suspect wouldn’t say.  Which leads me to the conclusion that it’s either someone in the CIA or someone in a position of some power.’

‘Or both.’

‘Or indeed both,’ Harry agreed.

‘So we can’t do anything?’ Adam asked.  ‘Now what?’

‘Ruth’s gone back to her source at GCHQ with the names of associates O’Neill was able to give us yesterday, and the twins have been doing the same with the internet.  Two names did crop up which surprised me; Elizabeth Weir and Igor Vasiliev. Vasiliev is a Russian oligarch with suspected ties to the SVR, which is unsurprising. Most of the Russian mafia have close links with either the Russian government or the intelligence services.  It’s how they got their money in the first place.’

‘I once heard a comment that amused me,’ Adam said.  ‘After the fall of the USSR, every enterprise in Moscow was privatised, including state corruption, which just made it so much more successful and profitable.’

‘Sad but true,’ John agreed.

Harry continued.  ‘Weir is an American who works at Mason’s Bank in the city, but her name has cropped up before and we had her marked as a possible CIA agent, probably operating without O’Neill’s knowledge.  We know there are any number of them besides the official agents, just as we have men in various embassies around the world who answer to MI6 but appear on the lists as Foreign Office staff. What makes Weir different are her connections to both Vasiliev and Kolya, although the link to Vasiliev is a little tenuous.’

‘Could she be the person O’Neill is keeping quiet about?’ John asked.

‘If she is I can understand why O’Neill is being so cagey,’ Harry said.  ‘She’s linked to a few folk in the US government; one Senator in particular is an old friend of her father who was killed in Vietnam.  She’s also met with our beloved Mr Mace a couple of times, including a dinner he claimed on expenses.’

‘What would Mace want with someone who works at Mason’s bank?’ Adam frowned.  ‘Do we know what she does there?’

‘Officially she works in their Human Resources department as a mid level clerk, but Ruth discovered she has her own office, not a common thing for a clerk to have, which is why her name rang a few warning bells.’

‘I can’t see Mace being interested in a mid level clerk.’

Harry nodded.  ‘I think we might have to take a closer look at Ms Weir, or rather her computer.  I believe the cleaning company who service the bank have need of some new staff.’

John and Adam grinned at each other.  They were both expert….cleaners.

 

————

 

It was decided that Adam and Teyla would be the ones to pay a visit to the bank.

‘John, you know you’re far too posh to pass as an office cleaner,’ Adam told him.  ’Teyla’s a much better choice to go with me.’

‘What about me?’ Ronon demanded.

The others looked at him in incredulity.

‘Ronon, they’re going undercover and the point of it all is to remain inconspicuous.  You’re six foot eight and have dreadlocks. There is no single part of you that is inconspicuous.’  John shook his head at the sulky look which appeared on Ronon’s face. ‘Don’t cry, for fuck’s sake. How about you taking over Teyla’s classes next week?  You know you enjoy beating up recruits.’

This cheered up Ronon but Teyla glared at John with a look that promised retribution during their next training session together, but John thought it was a small price to pay.

They caught a break when Ruth discovered ‘Angels’, the cleaning company with the contract for Mason’s Bank, was a company they’d used on previous occasions and who were well paid to turn a blind eye to any temporary staff MI5 wanted to put into a particular building or company.  They were able to get Adam and Teyla into position that very night with little effort while John headed the team providing surveillance and back up.

He hated being stuck in the van down the road from the bank but knew Adam and Teyla were more than qualified to do this.  His job was to provide them with directions to the relevant office and keep an eye on anyone who might get in their way or prove to be suspicious of their activities.  Malcolm was on hand to watch the security feeds just inside the bank, and to help with any technical issues that might arise, which were more likely to be connected to Weir’s computer than anything else since Angels were able to provide access swipe cards for the various parts of the building.

Adam and Teyla, both dressed in Angels overalls, made their way to the eighteenth floor where they’d discovered Weir’s office to be, pushing their little trolley of cleaning materials.  John was able to see what Adam saw thanks to a micro camera in one of the buttons on Adam’s uniform and all four were connected by minute radio transmitters.

Teyla waited by the lifts as lookout while Adam made his way to Weir’s office, getting in without difficulty, and John watched him slip on a pair of latex gloves then turn on the computer on the desk.  It powered up without a problem, and Adam used a nifty device created by Malcolm to determine the password, and began to download the hard drive onto a USB stick. While that was happening he searched the unlocked desk, each drawer opening easily.

‘Are we sure Weir is CIA?’ Adam muttered to John.  ‘These drawers weren’t even locked.’

‘Sometimes agents get too confident, Adam.  You know that,’ John replied in an equally low voice despite there being no possibility of being overheard.

‘There’s a desk diary here,’ Adam reported.  ‘I’ll take photographs.’

John could see the pages – a week to a page – flicking over as Adam photographed them but couldn’t make out any details.  He froze suddenly as Malcolm cursed.

‘One of the security men has left the front desk and gone towards the lifts,’ Malcolm reported.  ‘I can’t see where he’s gone but—’

‘Adam!’  Teyla’s voice sounded urgent.  ‘The lift’s coming up.’

All the cleaning staff had been ordered to stay below floor ten for the first hour to give Adam and Teyla time to get to Weir’s office, so if the lift was coming above that, they were in danger of being discovered.

‘Adam, you need to get out of there,’ John ordered.

‘It’s only downloaded sixty percent,’ Adam protested.  ‘Seventy….seventy five…’

Now, Adam!’

‘Lift’s arrived,’ Teyla informed them in a whisper.  ‘I’m in the main office. Get out of there, Adam!’

‘Done!’

‘What are you doing?’ John heard a voice ask.  ‘Why aren’t you with the other cleaners?’

‘We were told a bottle of milk had been dropped so we needed to get some detergent on it as soon as possible or it’ll stink the place out by tomorrow,’ John heard Adam say.  ‘You could do with keeping a bottle of detergent somewhere in the office in case it happens again. Rancid milk is disgusting.’ There was a pause then Adam spoke again. ‘There, that should fix it.  By the time we get back here to clean, it should have neutralised the smell.’

‘Thank you,’ the voice said.  ‘Milk shouldn’t be brought into this office at all.  I’ll make sure everyone knows.’

‘You’re welcome,’ Teyla told him, then instead of a view of the carpet, John watched Teyla push their trolley out from the office, into the corridor and towards the lifts.  He and Malcolm looked at each other and gave identical sighs of relief.

 

————-

 

Rodney was puttering about the house in Chelsea pretty much getting on everyone’s nerves.  Even Brian made himself scarce as Rodney scrolled rapidly through the various channels on the television not once but twice then began pulling books out from John’s well stocked bookcase allegedly looking for something to read.  Tony was grateful when Ducky finally told him to ‘settle down right now or take yourself off to bed!’

‘How old do you think I am?  Twelve?’

‘More like five from the way you’re behaving, and if you don’t do as you’re told I might start treating you like a five year old!’

The glint in Ducky’s eye told them both he was very serious.

Rodney plonked himself down on the sofa with a huff, his arms folded, and glared at his cousin, but Tony noticed he’d avoided his usual place and was sitting as far away from Ducky as possible.  Ducky continued reading peacefully as though nothing had happened and Tony turned back to his Kindle. Peace reigned for a short while and when he next looked up, Rodney was fast asleep, cuddled up to Brian who had crept back as soon as all the shouting was over.  He and Ducky shared a conspiratorial smile as they looked at Rodney. John had called to say he’d be late back and not to wait up for him, although Rodney had insisted he wanted to be up when John got home. From the look of it, however, neither Rodney nor Brian would manage that.

It was nice having a dog around the house, Tony decided.  He’d always wanted one as a child but frequent family relocations had made it impossible – or so his father had claimed.  Instead, the young Tony had to be satisfied with the dogs he encountered at his cousin’s home in the north England where a mixture of  labradors, springer spaniels and for some reason a single bearded collie – clearly from where John got his love of them – roamed freely about the house and grounds.  He realised, however, having a dog in DC would be unfair on the animal, especially with the long hours he tended to work.

Tony was feeling a little frustrated with the situation in which they now found themselves.  He was certainly glad to be away from NCIS and while he hadn’t expected to get embroiled in the aftermath of a kidnapping, now he was, he would prefer a more involved role.  He’d been quite excited at his secondment to MI5 but finding himself relegated to babysitter – albeit a babysitter with a gun – was, quite frankly, boring. Seeing John go off each morning to secret meetings and discussions, knowing he was hunting for Rodney’s kidnappers, was difficult.

‘I can empathise with you, Anthony.’  Ducky’s voice broke into his brooding.  ‘Being the one left behind each time. I can empathise.’

Tony smiled at his friend.  ‘I know, Ducky, but you have an important role as our ME.  I’m pretty certain anyone could guard Rodney if I weren’t here.’

‘But John trusts you with Rodney.  Possibly more than he would one of his own men.’

‘I know that.  I’m just used to being the one out there, where the action is.’

Ducky was quiet for a moment and Tony thought he’d perhaps said all he wanted to and dropped his eyes back down to his Kindle.

‘I wasn’t always a Medical Examiner, Anthony.’

Tony looked up again.  ‘I know, Ducky. But you’ve always been a medic, even when you were in the army you were a medic.’

‘No, actually, I wasn’t.’

Tony was certain his face mirrored the shock he felt.  ‘You weren’t? But I thought you went to Medical School straight from high school?’

‘No, I went straight into the Army.  You have to remember that National Service was still in place when I left school, but since I’d been in the Combined Cadet Force at Eton, I was offered a commission.  I actually served for ten years and for a while did a very similar job to John. I didn’t go to medical school until I was 30 years old. It’s not something I can, or even want, to talk about, but believe me when I say that I know how difficult it is being left behind.  To not be the one making the decisions or leading a team out in the field. Sometimes you just have to accept being the one left minding the shop.’

‘Minding the shop?  I don’t…’

Ducky laughed.  ‘No, I don’t suppose you do.  It’s a very British phrase meaning to look after something for a while.  I’m finding myself slipping back into English rather than American having spent a few days with John and Rodney.’

‘John?’ spluttered Rodney, suddenly awake.  ‘Is John here? Is he back?’

’No, Rodney, I apologise.  I simply spoke his name. He has not returned as yet.  Why don’t you take yourself off to bed? You’ll be much more comfortable there.’

‘I want to wait up for him,’ Rodney insisted, stubbornly.

‘Well, Anthony and I are going to bed ourselves as it’s almost half past eleven and I’m not as young as I once was. Anthony will take Brian out for his evening stroll and you and I can get ourselves ready for bed.’

‘I can take Brian out.’  Rodney’s glare was back again.

‘Oh, no way, José,’ Tony told him.  ‘I don’t want to face John if you get yourself kidnapped again, or even if you trip and stub your toe!  You take your ass off to bed and I’ll take Brian out.’

Rodney scowled, but Tony refused to back down and eventually the scientist stomped off to his bedroom.

Tony took Brian for a short walk to let the mutt cock his leg and watched as Brian ran a short way, stopping to sniff at particularly odour-some blades of grass in a small front garden close to John’s house.

‘Come off there, Brian!  It’s not your yard!’ Tony ordered, and smiled as Brian came bouncing back to him, having thoroughly watered the straggly bushes fighting for space in the tiny city garden.  As they wandered back home, Tony kept a wary eye out for anything that might strike him as odd but everything appeared to be in its usual place and he and Brian were the only people out late at night in such a quiet residential area.  It was doubtful that any attempt to seize Rodney would be made here in London as John’s address was likely to be known to very few, but Tony meant to stay alert and aware of his surroundings. He might find it boring but his cousin had entrusted his partner to him and Tony vowed not to let John down.

When they got back home Tony made sure the burglar alarm was set for the ground floor of the mews house.  The door was securely locked, although he was unable to bolt it as John had still to return, but he checked that all the windows and even the door to the tiny rooftop terrace were locked before he made his way to his own bedroom.  He glanced in John and Rodney’s room, where the door was left open for Brian who liked to wander from room to room in the night, and saw Rodney and his dog were fast asleep, both snoring gently. He smiled to himself as he got ready for bed.  The unlikely pair had grown on him and he knew he’d miss them when he returned to the US, just as he’d miss his cousin now they were reconciled. His last thought before falling asleep was that he must visit his uncle in North Yorkshire before he left England.

 

Within a few minutes it was clear the house had settled for the night.  There were no lights showing and no sounds at all, but the two men hidden in shadows waited for a full half hour after the last light was switched off.  It had taken some work to discover where McKay had been taken and even more to discover the identities of the two visitors, but Kolya had finally discovered they were relations of McKay and his lover, not bodyguards as he’d suspected.  He’d kept control of this kidnapping to himself, although with three of his small group still locked up somewhere he’d had little choice. He intended to get McKay out of London as fast as he could, certain keeping him so close to his home last time was why he was rescued before any useful information could be extracted.  His patron needed the information McKay had and Kolya was determined to get it for him.

 

—————

 

Tony awoke suddenly from a deep sleep.  He lay for a moment listening. Had John finally come home?  The alarm bleeped twice signifying it needed to be reset or switched off, then went quiet.  He waited for it to be reset to cover the primary entrance to the house but it remained silent.  Wouldn’t John have reactivated it? Tony sat up, ears straining, and heard soft footsteps on the lower stairs.  More than one set of footsteps, he was certain.

Silently, he slipped out of bed and picked up the pistol issued to him by Section D.  He crept to the door – slightly ajar because of Brian – and listened carefully. Definitely two people.  He thought rapidly. He had the advantage, but shots fired in the dark could easily go astray and cause serious injury.  Would the intruders know the layout of the house, know where Rodney would be sleeping? He heard the creak of a stair. They were coming up to this floor now.  It was a narrow, enclosed staircase which meant only the man in front could use his gun safely. This was his best chance.

Tony stepped out of his room and fired once, twice, three times down the stairs, praying it wasn’t John.  There was a yell and the sound of tumbling bodies and he quickly snapped on the light, illuminating the scene.  Rodney, followed by a barking Brian, came flying out of his bedroom and Tony yelled at him to get back into his room and barricade the door.  Peripherally, he saw Ducky grab them both and bundle them into his room and he heard furniture moving as Ducky blocked the door.

At the foot of the staircase was a tangled mass of bodies.  As Tony had hoped, the first man had fallen back on his co-conspirator and neither were making any effort to get up.  Holding his gun carefully in front of him, he made his way down the stairs and kicked the unmoving top body off the second, groaning body.  The first man was dead, shot cleanly in the centre of the forehead, with a further shot in his chest. Good shooting!  The second man had an awkwardly bent leg, obviously broken, and was holding his shoulder.  That’s where the third shot went.  Neither were going anywhere.

Tony heard the front door open two floors below.

‘Hello?’ a voice called.  ‘Why is this door unlocked?’  John.  Thank God.

‘Up here, John!’

Footsteps came running up the stairs.

’Tony?  I thought you’d all be…What the fuck!’

‘Hi, John.  How was your evening?’

 

By the time the house had emptied of police, paramedics and spooks, it was past 3am.  Harry Pearce arrived first and he and John were able to keep the police in the lower part of the house, claiming the entire event was a matter for the security services although Harry did demand a police presence at the hospital, where Kidnapper Two had been taken, to remain outside his hospital door at all times.  Kidnapper One was bundled into a body bag and taken back to the morgue at Thames House to await post mortem by the Metropolitan Police pathologist, although Harry asked Ducky to be present.  Tony’s gun was slipped into an evidence bag by an operative from Thames House, purely as a matter of procedure Harry assured Tony who just nodded.  He’d have done – had to have done – exactly the same.  He wasn’t worried about any enquiry that might follow, he’d been given authority by MI5 to guard Rodney which was exactly what he’d done.

Rodney, Ducky and a very sheepish Brian emerged from Ducky’s bedroom soon after John arrived home.  John had looked at the two bodies at the foot of the staircase in shock and Tony realised that – like himself – John had probably thought Rodney was perfectly safe here, that arming Tony was perhaps being a little too overprotective.  They’d both been wrong.

John held out his hand to shake Tony’s hand, but at the last moment, reached forward and pulled Tony into a hug.  ‘Thank you. I… I… Thank you.’

A little surprised – John had always been the most undemonstrative member of the family – but far from unwilling, Tony hugged his cousin back, aware that their relationship had now entered an entirely new phase.

 

————

 

Chapter Nine

 

The following morning, John insisted they all pack bags as they’d be moving to a safe-house.  Rodney tried to argue but a single look from John – who’d seen Donald use it to great effect –  quieted him.

‘I don’t see why Ronon and Teyla can’t guard us,’ he was heard muttering as he stomped off.

‘Because they have jobs to do,’ John called after him and shook his head as Rodney waved him a two finger salute.

‘We’re all going into Thames House first,’ John informed Donald and Tony.  ‘We need to meet with Harry and Adam and decide just where Rodney will be safest.’

‘We?’ Tony asked.

‘You, Donald and myself.  I’ll stick Rodney in a room with his laptop and an internet link and then we three can go and talk about him behind his back.’

‘I heard that!’ came a yell from upstairs.

‘You want me with you as well?’ Donald asked in surprise.

‘Donald, I suspect you have more experience in your little finger than Adam and I have in our lives, at least when it comes to the security service.’

‘You know, then?’

‘Harry Pearce told me the other day.  And you didn’t look at all surprised, Tony.’

‘Ducky was just about to share his past exploits with me last night when Rodney woke up.’

There was a knock at the front door which made them each jump, and Tony made a movement towards his gun before realising it had been taken away the previous night.

‘We’ll sort you out with a new gun when we get to Thames House,’ John promised.  ‘This’ll be our car and driver. I didn’t want to use mine as I can’t drive and keep a look out at the same time.

Ten minutes later they were all settled in the SUV with Rodney in between John and Tony in the back.

‘Why am I in the middle?’ he complained.  ‘You know I get car sick.’

‘You’ve not been car sick since we were at school, and I want you next to me and away from the door,’ John told him, patiently.  ‘Now shut up and buckle-up.’

‘What’s happening to Brian?  Why isn’t he in the car?’ Rodney demanded, suddenly realising his dog had been left behind.

‘Ronon’s going to take care of him for a few days, he’ll pick him up later, and you know Brian loves him.’

‘That dog would love anyone who fed him,’ Tony muttered, and jumped as Rodney poked him in the ribs and glared.

 

———–

 

Once at Thames House John set Rodney up in Harry’s office, deciding that the centre of the Grid was the safest place for his scientist, but just before he left to join the others in the conference room he held Rodney close; a little reassurance for each of them.

As he entered the conference room and made his way to the space left at the long table for him, John heard Tony mention how irritable Rodney had been for the last few days and felt he needed to defend his partner.

‘Rodney’s a scientist and he’s never been in this sort of situation before.  His home has been invaded, twice now, he was taken away by people who hurt him and he’s being kept from the work he loves.  I can’t say he’s always a jolly, happy person, but at the moment he’s worried and afraid, for us as much as himself. It took a long time for him to stop shaking last night and I hate to think what this will do to him long term.  Give him a little slack, Tony, please.’

‘I do understand, John, and I remember what Ducky said the other day about PTSD.  I just hate to see him like this. I’ve only known him a few days but he does grow on you, doesn’t he?’

John nodded and smiled at his cousin.

‘Umm, I have a question?’ Adam raised his hand and they all turned to look at him.  ‘Ducky? Really?’

John laughed. ‘I gave Tony a hard time when I first heard him use it,’ John told him, ‘but apparently, it’s what Donald likes to be called.  I’m afraid I’ve known him for too long as ‘Donald’ to use it myself, since that’s what Rodney’s always called him, but if Donald is happy, go ahead.’

‘I would be very happy for you to use whichever name you find comfortable, Mr Carter,’ Donald told him with a smile, then took in the others around the table.  ‘And that goes for all of you.’

‘Thank you, Donald,’  Harry brought the meeting to order.  ‘This is Adam Carter, my other senior case officer, and I was expecting Ronon and Teyla.’  Harry looked around, as if he expected them to be hiding somewhere. ‘John, do you know where they are?’

John shook his head.  ‘They insisted on coming over last night after all the excitement to keep an eye on the place, and then they disappeared after breakfast.  I assumed they’d each gone home to change and that they’d meet us here. Ronon’s offered to take care of Brian until it’s safe for Rodney to go back to Laverstock and the DSTL.’

‘Well, we can’t wait for them.  We need to discuss where you four are going to stay for the next few days and also what Colin and Malcolm were able to pull from Weir’s hard drive from your little excursion to Mason’s Bank.’

‘Wow, I’d forgotten all about that,’ John commented.  ‘Was it only last night? How come the twins have got the information off it so soon?’

‘They never went to bed,’ Harry said dryly, ‘and apparently neither did Ronon and Teyla.  I’m dreading the overtime bill for this operation.’

‘May I ask why Anthony and I have been brought in?’ Donald asked.

‘I do beg your pardon, Donald.  I’d meant to address that earlier.  I wanted your input, both of you, on Elizabeth Weir and how we go about questioning her.  Tony’s an experienced agent but likely has very different methods to ours, and you yourself have years of experience, both in the intelligence services and as a psychological profiler.  I’d like to hear what each of you have to say.’

‘This isn’t going to cause any conflict of interest for us is it, Sir Harry?  Both Anthony and I are currently employed by the US Department of the Navy, despite my past associations with the British Intelligence Community.’

’Tony has been officially seconded to MI5 and has signed what is commonly called the Official Secrets Act, as have you, albeit a number of years ago.’ Harry explained  ‘It’s an enduring legal document and while you act under it for and on behalf of the British Government you are, to all intents and purposes, a member of MI5. We have a reciprocal agreement with the US which allows members of our security services to be seconded to US security services if it becomes necessary.  Neither country will ask such an agent to act against one of their countrymen unless it’s absolutely unavoidable, so we can’t second someone and force them to reveal secrets about something we’re interested in, and equally the US can’t force you to reveal details you might have learned while seconded to us. It’s in both our interests to adhere to the agreement.’

Tony and Donald both nodded, but just as Harry was about to continue, the door to the conference room opened and Ronon and Teyla entered, accompanied by…

‘Evan?’  John jumped to his feet.  ‘What are you doing here? I thought you were playing war games down in Wiltshire?’

Evan Lorne came fully into the room and nodded at everyone, but directed his words at John.  ‘We were, but we had a little incident earlier and I wanted to accompany my charges up to London and make my report in person.’

‘Charges?’

‘Report?’

‘Incident?’

Several questions were asked at once, but John took control and motioned his friend forward.

‘Harry, Major Evan Lorne.  Evan? This is Sir Harry Pearce, Head of Section D.  I’ll introduce everyone else later. Now, what charges, what incident and what report?’

Evan nodded to everyone in the room, but addressed his report to John.  ‘I’ve had the lads down near Porton Down ‘on exercise’ and we’ve been monitoring comings and goings at the main and side entrances to the base.  I’ve also had a couple of lads driving the Doctors Zelenka back and forth and I think Doc Radek told anyone curious enough to ask that he had a couple of nephews visiting.  Incidentally, both corporals were allowed inside the base yesterday based only on the Doc’s say so. They were in civvies but both were armed and the muppets on the gate didn’t even ask for identification.’  He took a bottle of water from the side table, opened it and took a drink.

‘That’s better.  So, the four of them left the Docs’ house at the usual time this morning, but as they were driving out of the village a van pulled across the road in front of them and two men jumped out both holding guns.  They were clearly expecting to find two scientists and a couple of foreign visitors, not two armed bootnecks who quickly overpowered them. Anyway, Corporal Taylor drove the van back to our temporary HQ with the two gunmen and their driver tied up in the back while Corporal Hudson drove the Docs.  I decided to keep them away from the labs as just about anyone can get in there and someone knew their movements well enough to know just where they’d be at a given time. I called Dex, no, actually I called you first but there was no answer so then I called Dex, he brought a helo down for us all and that’s that,’ he finished with a grin.

‘You took a helicopter down to Wiltshire without asking anyone?’  Harry demanded of Ronon.

He shrugged.  ‘You were all busy and I knew you’d want them here.’

’So where are they?’ John asked with a glance at Harry.  Ronon had done the right thing as far as he was concerned.

‘The Docs are in with Rodney and the other three are in the cells.’

‘Any injuries?’ John asked Evan.

‘My chaps got off a couple of warning shots, but both would-be kidnappers dropped their weapons and held their hands up and the driver wasn’t armed.  Taylor and Hudson were quite disappointed.’

John laughed.  Bootnecks hated to miss out on a fight.

’So we’ve now got six locked up in your cells, one in hospital and one in the morgue,’ mused Tony.  ‘How many more do you think we still have to catch?’

 

————

 

Teyla ushered Radek and Miko into Harry’s office where Rodney was busy looking very busy.  He was actually playing solitaire but had a couple of other windows open in case anyone asked what he was working on.  He jumped up as soon as he saw his friends come in and stepped around the desk to hug Miko who was looking very teary.

‘What on earth’s happened?  Are you alright? Why are you here?  Teyla, why are they here? What’s happen—?’

‘Rodney, breath,’ Teyla instructed him.  ‘Doctor Radek, please take a seat. Would you like some tea?’

‘Thank you, yes, we both would, I believe,’ Radek answered, collapsing into a chair by the desk while Rodney guided a shaking Miko into the seat he’d just vacated and knelt by her side.

‘Miko, what on earth’s happened?’  He looked up to include Radek in his question and watched as Radek removed his glasses to polish them.  Rodney recognised this as one of Radek’s tells when he was upset, so he continued to rub Miko’s cold, trembling hands and waited for his friend to collect himself.

‘We were driving into lab this morning with people John asked to take care of us.  Van pulled in front to stop us and two men with guns disembarked, pointing them at us.  Our guards also got out with guns and with one, two shots, strange men were taken and tied.  We are driven to barn and helicopter is brought for us to come here. We are neither hurt but just very shaken and upset.’

‘Oh my God!  Does John know about this?’

‘I believe Major Lorne, the head of people giving us guard, is speaking with John now.  He comes with us in helicopter, and I never, never want to fly in such again. Never!’

The door opened and Teyla slipped in carrying a tray with three steaming mugs on it.

‘Hot and sweet, Dr. Radek, Dr. Miko, it’s the best thing for shock.  Rodney, this is yours, without sugar.’

‘Thank you, Teyla.  Here, Miko, drink this, you’ll feel much better,’ Rodney told her, holding the sweetened tea out for her to take.

Miko took it but Rodney had to grab it back as her hands were still shaking too badly to hold it.  Instead, he held the cup to her lips, speaking softly and gently, and she was able to take a couple of sips.

‘Thank you, Rodney,’ she whispered.  ‘I will be fine. It was just such a shock and I didn’t like the helicopter at all.  What will we do now?’

‘We’ll wait for John.  He’ll know what to do and he’ll look after us all,’ Rodney told her gently, with firm confidence in his partner.

‘Do you come in here everyday?’ asked Radek, his voice much stronger and language clearer now he knew they were both safe.  ‘Is this John’s office?’

‘No.  This belongs to John’s boss and I’m just here until we move to a new house for a while.’

Radek raised his eyebrows in enquiry and took another sip of his sweet tea.

‘We were paid a visit last night, well, early this morning.  John’s cousin, Tony, you met him? He shot one of the men coming up the stairs and he fell onto the one behind him who fell and broke something, his leg I think, but the first one was dead, so… well, we didn’t get much sleep.’

‘And your Brian, did he wake everyone when he heard the ones breaking in?’

Rodney scowled.  ‘No. The stupid mutt was asleep with me and didn’t wake up until we all did when Tony fired his gun.  He mustn’t have heard them.’

‘And John?  Did he also sleep through?’

‘No, he’d been out doing… something… and only got back when it was over.  But he said we have to leave the house and move somewhere safe and Ronon is going to look after Brian.’  Rodney paused a moment, his face clearly showing his worry and frustration. ‘I’m so tired of this and it’s not quite a week since I was kidnapped.  I want it all to be over so I can go back home and be safe, and not have to worry about gunmen breaking in, or…or cars being hijacked. I just want it all to go away.’

 

————

 

While Evan disappeared to write up his report, John paid a quick visit to Rodney and the Zelenkas to reassure them they were now safe and that they’d stay with MI5 until the whole situation had been resolved, and also to find out how many more people were potentially in danger owing to their knowledge of the secret project.  He slipped back into the conference room just as Malcolm stood up to speak.

‘We found emails between Elizabeth Weir and a Senator Henry Landry.  He’s a Republican, represents California and was first elected in 1992 before which he was a Congressman and before that he was in the Air Force.

‘The emails between them don’t give any particular details, but it’s clear they’ve known each other a long time, that they see each other fairly frequently when she’s in Washington DC, and that she’s requested various documents from him – he’s on the Senate Committee for Intelligence – and that he usually posts those documents to her.  We have no idea what they might contain. She’s been very careful to avoid mentioning just what they are, although she does occasionally give some numerical references which might be relevant.’ Malcolm paused and took a drink of water.

‘Do we know if CIA documents are referenced numerically?’  Adam asked. ’Tony?’

‘I’m afraid I can’t help you with that,’ Tony said regretfully.  ‘We have regular dealings with the FBI but very rarely with the CIA and I can’t recall ever having seen any CIA documents.  NCIS numbers reports and memos but it’s mostly just an internal thing: date, department etc.’

‘The ones we’ve seen aren’t numbered in any significant way but it doesn’t mean that none of them are.  It’s really a question for Mr O’Neill,’ Malcolm told them. ‘We did, however, find some deleted emails. Quite a number of deleted emails she obviously thought she’d got rid of, copied to either Landry or Igor Vasiliev, who we do have information on.  A fair amount of information, but I’ll get to that shortly. We have a clear link between Landry and Vasiliev although we don’t know if they’ve ever actually met. They have, however, interacted through email, both to and from each other with copies to Weir, or from Weir to either one of them with copies to the other.’

‘They’ve used their own names in open emails?’ John asked, a little incredulously.

‘In Landry’s case, yes.  In Vasiliev’s case, his email address is very different to his name, it’s just that Weir’s filed any emails under his name.  We also have several diary entries for her over a number of weeks, the most recent on Tuesday this week, which just says ‘meet AK MILBR’.’  Malcolm wrote the letters on the whiteboard.

‘AK, Acasta Kolya?’ Harry asked.  ‘And perhaps ‘Milbank’?’

‘Good guess, but bearing in mind just where her office is, we suspect Millennium Bridge.  It’s not proof that would hold up in court, but…’ He shrugged.

‘We don’t need it to hold up in court.  This operation will never get to court. We just need enough to prove her involvement to the American cousins and let them deal with her,’ Harry told him.  ‘Good work, Malcolm and Colin. Thank you.’

Malcolm gathered up his notes, headed to the door and was about to leave when Harry spoke again.

‘Wait.  What about Vasiliev?’

Malcolm paused and shook his head.  ‘I completely forgot.’ He returned to the table and fumbled for a sheaf of papers which he passed around the group.

’Igor Vasiliev.  Ruth picked up his name from GCHQ reports a couple of days ago when we first picked up Weir’s name.  This is a report on his activities, but in brief? He’s a Russian Oligarch who made his money through government contracts after the breakup of the USSR.  He’s almost certainly a member of the Russian Mafia with links to organised crime, gun running, drugs and just about anything which will make him money, and he has very close links to the SRV.  His second in command is a former KGB agent.’

‘Thank you, Malcolm.’  Harry looked around the group at the conference table.  ‘So. Thoughts?’

‘We need to get Jack O’Neill back over here,’ John suggested.  ‘His information the other day linked Kolya to the SRV and the Russian Mafia, and we now have links for Weir to the SRV and Russian Mafia, as well as a couple of other names.’

‘And when the gentlemen in your cells are questioned, you might have other names,’ Donald pointed out.  ‘Or verification of the names you already have.’

Harry nodded.  ‘John, do you want to get your team back down to the cells?’

‘Hey, it’s my turn,’ Adam cut in.  ‘John got to play the other day. My team want a go.’

Harry gave a small smile.  ‘Very well, Adam. Take your team down and see what you get.  John needs to pick out somewhere to take his family which appears to have had a further two members added to it, and Donald?  Would you mind taking the information we have on Weir and Vasiliev and working up psychological profiles? You’ll see things from a different perspective.’

 

—————

 

A smaller group met in the same conference room later that day.  Donald, Rodney, Radek and Miko had been taken by Ronon and Teyla to a private house to the west of London that was owned by MI5 and had state of the art security.  It was frequently used by visiting VIPs and had hosted a number of top secret meetings and small summits. There was a permanent team of guards on duty and they were augmented by further guards from Thames House as well as John and Tony later on.

Harry began the discussion.  ‘Adam and his team were able to confirm that Acasta Kolya was in charge of the kidnapping teams and his second in-charge, an Alex Muravyov, is the man Tony shot dead.  Kolya himself is recovering in hospital from a compound fracture of the leg and a bullet in his shoulder. He’s not going anywhere except to a cell when he’s well enough to be moved although we are keeping a guard on him while he’s in hospital.  We’ll question him tomorrow morning either there or here in our cells and hope he can tell us where he got John’s address from.

‘We also have a statement from a Max Bell, who was part of the team trying to take the Doctors Zelenka, that he was present at a meeting between Kolya, Muravyov and a Dmitry Biryukov, who we understand is Igor Vasiliev’s second in command.  One of them had information from a source detailing Rodney’s address, as well as the Zelenkas, and that they were working on a top secret project, although he can’t recall which of them it was. Adam is sure he’s telling the truth. Rodney was chosen as their main target as they believed he lived alone.  As John suspected, they had no idea he was anywhere in the picture.

‘I’ve invited Jack O’Neill and his team to join us to discuss the connections we’ve found to Elizabeth Weir.  They should be here shortly.’

‘Do we know if there are any other potential kidnappers out there?’ asked Tony.  ‘We seem to have collected three, six, eight men so far, but we’ve no idea how many might still be a problem.’

‘We probably won’t know that until we’ve questioned Kolya himself,’ Adam pointed out.  ‘In the team that first took Rodney, only one of the three had any contact with Kolya: in the Zelenka’s team, two of the three had met with Kolya and another Russian.  There may well be other men or even whole teams that only Kolya knows about.’

John nodded in agreement, then gave a quick laugh.  ‘I’m going to tell Radek you called his attackers ‘his team’.’

Adam threw a pencil at him then looked around the room.  ‘What happened to your Marine chum?’

‘He’s gone back down to Wiltshire.  There are three lab assistants who’ve been working on The Project – actually Adam, I hate to say it, but you were right.  We do need a proper name for it. Anyway, he’s gone back down to keep an eye on the three young lab assistants who are the only other ones who have any significant knowledge of Project Rodney.  Although, Harry? We do need to get the security sorted out down there. Evan will only be able to run his ‘exercise’ for a few more days. Has anyone been looking at a new risk assessment and profile for what the DSTL, and possibly the other facilities this security company run, what they all need?’

‘I’ve got Ruth working on it right now,’ Harry told them.  ‘We’ll probably have to take it through the MOD as they officially run the site, and I’d prefer to have this operation tied up before I pay them a visit.’

‘Have you told the Home Secretary yet?’

‘State Opening of Parliament next week.’ Harry told them, in a very satisfied tone of voice.  ‘He’s very busy!’

The door opened just as Adam and John joined Harry in laughing, and Jack, Sam and Daniel were shown in by Ruth.

‘Something funny?’ Jack asked looking around.  ‘Have I got something on my face or spinach between my teeth?’

‘No, sorry, something amused us, that’s all.  Take a seat all of you,’ and Harry straightened his face and motioned around the table.

He gave a quick resumé of the rather complicated connections they’d uncovered and John made a helpful diagram on the whiteboard of who was linked to whom.

‘How did you get this information on Elizabeth Weir?’ asked Daniel, studying the collection of circles and connecting lines.

Harry’s face remained impassive.  ‘Let’s just say we acquired it.’

Jack gave him a sharp glance but made no comment.

‘How did Elizabeth Weir’s name come up anyway?’ Sam Carter asked.  ‘She wasn’t on the list we passed on.’

‘But was she on the list you didn’t pass on?’ asked Harry in return.

The silence from the three Americans spoke volumes.

‘Is she a CIA agent?’

Again, there was nothing.

‘Well, what are you prepared to share with us about her?’ Harry pressed.

Jack sighed and glanced at his colleagues.  ‘Her name cropped up when we looked at Kolya, and in a couple of other places too, but I’m not prepared to discuss that.’

‘And Vasiliev?’

‘Have you guys been hacking our system?’ Jack demanded, then realised what he’d said and closed his eyes.  ‘Crap!’ Opening them again, he looked around the table. ‘I knew I’d be a lousy spook. I told George Hammond I’d be a lousy spook.’

‘Actually, Jack, I think you told him you’d probably cause an international incident,’ Daniel said with a small smile.  ‘But you’ve not done that yet,’ he added, comfortingly.

Strangely, Jack’s slip broke the rising tension in the room.  Each person around the table visibly relaxed.

‘So, Vasiliev.’  Harry repeated. ‘I’ll tell you what we’ve discovered.  Russian oligarch, mafia links and almost certainly SVR links.  His second in command, a chap called Dmitry Biryukov, has clear connections to Kolya and we have evidence of emails between the two.  We also have emails between Vasiliev and Weir and what looks to be evidence of meetings between Weir and Kolya.’

‘And do you know where all these people are at present?’ Sam asked.

This time it was the MI5 people who remained silent.

‘We can offer no evidence that a crime has been committed by any of them at the moment,’ Harry said eventually.

Daniel narrowed his eyes a little and John suspected he’d taken note of Harry’s careful choice of words, but Jack and Sam both appeared to accept this at face value.

‘So what happens now?’ asked Sam.

There was a pause while each of them waited for another to speak.  Finally, Harry broke the silence.

‘Jack, how serious were you about cleaning house at the US Embassy?’

Jack looked a little surprised.  ‘Is that relevant?’

‘I think it could be,’ Harry told him.  He pointed to the diagrams John had drawn on the whiteboard.  ‘The information Daniel gleaned from your Embassy contained two sets of names; Russian Foreign Intelligence agents and Russian organised crime.  Our only link between them was Acasta Kolya. Now we can link Elizabeth Weir to both groups and we can link her to Kolya.

‘The other day you said you’d come up with another name that you weren’t ready to divulge at that point.  My guess is that it was Elizabeth Weir.’

The three American agents remained impassive and Harry sighed.

‘Jack, you said you wanted to us to trust each other.  Have you changed your mind?’

————-

 

Chapter Ten

Jack remained silent for a moment.  He’d half expected this question to come up but had really hoped it wouldn’t.  Sam had taken him to task a couple of days before for being a little too open with Harry Pearce and the men with him.  In particular she’d pointed out that Harry had seconded an NCIS agent and hadn’t given a real reason for so doing. There were a number of unknowns in play, and discretion – never one of Jack’s strong points – was probably the better path to follow.

Jack had argued that he frequently acted on instinct and it rarely let him down.  His instinct had been to trust Harry and be open with him. He had a problem with reports coming out from the US Embassy and it needed to be dealt with.  Instinct told him that information had either been deliberately withheld, or presented in a fashion that would obscure links between people or situations in the hope that he, as Station Chief, would simply ignore it.  He, or rather Daniel, hadn’t ignored it though, and they were now very aware that someone, or possibly more than one, was playing them.

Making a decision to go with his instinct, Jack decided to give the MI5 people – plus one NCIS agent – the information they needed.

‘Yes, her name was the one that came up but we had no real evidence to link her to Kolya and Vasiliev.  How you managed to get your information, I have no idea. At least, I have an idea, but it’s probably best for all of us if you keep it to yourself.

‘I suspect Weir is a CIA agent and that she’s instructed the Embassy staff to keep her name out of a number of reports.  On what authority she’s done that I don’t know, nor do I know why they followed her orders and not mine. I intend to go in later and kick some ass.  It might not solve all the problems but it will make me feel a bit better.’

Everyone but Daniel laughed at that and he simply shook his head in resignation

‘Something I don’t understand, though,’ Jack continued, ‘is what.  What is she trying to keep away from me, from us? What does she gain by this?’

‘I think you’re looking at this from the wrong angle,’ John cut in.  ‘It’s not what she’s keeping from you, but why. She didn’t want us to link her to Kolya and she certainly didn’t want us to link her to Vasiliev.  Kolya is an American citizen, at least nominally. Vasiliev has close ties to both organised crime and Russian Foreign Intelligence. If a US citizen has close associations with the SRV, questions are going to be asked whether she’s CIA or not.  If she is CIA, it’s even worse, unless she’s been authorised to have that association. And furthermore, if she’s instructed the CIA staff to keep information from you, their boss, that’s both very suspicious and very serious as you can have no idea what else is being kept from you .’

‘How can you confirm if she is CIA or not?’ asked Tony.  ‘I doubt there’s a list for you to look at. Although you appear to know the Director quite well.  Can he tell you if she’s acting under his instructions? If he’s not in the loop, then there really is a problem.’

Jack nodded thoughtfully.  ‘I feel as though we’re missing pieces of this puzzle.  Either that, or I’m not seeing the picture properly.’

‘I may be able to help there,’ Harry offered.  ‘There are some things I simply can’t divulge, you know that, just as some things you have to keep back from us.  I really didn’t want to bring this to your attention as it probably opens some cans of worms none of us are prepared to deal with, but we have information that suggests one of your Senators is passing information to Weir.  We have no idea what this information is, but she has probably passed it on to Kolya, or to Vasiliev.’

‘Oh crap!’ Jack moaned.  ‘I really wish you hadn’t told me that.’

‘Hang on a minute,’ Sam joined the conversation.  ‘This might not be anything bad. I mean, what information can a Senator have that isn’t in the public domain anyway?  If he or she’s not a member of…’ She stopped and sighed. ‘He is though, isn’t he? He’s on an important Congressional Committee.’

‘Senator Henry Landry.  Senate Intelligence Committee,’  Harry told her with a grimace. ‘Potentially, he has a lot of information the Russians would like and you wouldn’t like them to have.  We probably wouldn’t like it either.’

‘If you have evidence she’s passed confidential papers to the Russians, that’s treason, no matter why she did it,’ Daniel stated bluntly.  ‘If you have evidence, it’s probably enough to get both Weir and Landry locked up.’

 

————-

 

‘I miss my dog,’ Rodney complained as they sat eating breakfast on Saturday morning.  ‘I swear I don’t sleep as well without him.’

‘You slept perfectly well last night so stop complaining,’ John told him.  ‘You did stop me from sleeping with your snoring, though.’

‘I don’t snore!’

‘Yes, you do!’

‘Yeah, you do, Rodney,’ said Tony.  ‘I could hear you from my room back at John’s house.’

‘It probably was John,’ Rodney told him airily.  ‘I don’t snore.’

‘John wasn’t even in the house, so it was either you or Brian.’

‘I miss him,’ Rodney said again, abandoning the discussion on snoring.

‘Ronon said he’d look after him.’

‘Yes, but will he let him sleep on his bed?’

‘Brian shouldn’t be on anyone’s bed,’ John told him firmly.  ‘You just spoil him.’

‘I remember when we had a cat that liked to sleep on beds,’ Donald reminisced.  ‘He’d climb on and turn himself round and round, making a nest for himself and—’

‘Oops!’ Tony said as he knocked over a milk jug.  ‘I’m sorry, I’ll go and get a cloth to wipe it up.’

They all watched as Tony disappeared through the door.

‘I’ll go and help him.’  Rodney stood and was about to head for the door himself when a hand gripped his arm.

‘Tony doesn’t need any help,’ John told him grimly, pulling him back into his abandoned chair.  ‘I’m sorry, Donald, you were saying?’

Rodney glared at John, who kept his grip on Rodney’s arm, careful to avoid the bandages still wrapped there.  John smiled back at him, all teeth. There was no sign of Tony returning to mop up the spilt milk.

‘My parents had a cat when I was born,’ Radek began.  ‘We lived in Prague and one day, so my mother told me, the cat went out and it never came back.’

There was a short silence when he finished speaking.

‘That’s it?’ demanded Rodney.  ‘That’s all there is to your story?  It went out and didn’t come back?  Why are you even telling us this?’

‘We were talking about cats,’ Radek defended himself.

‘No, we weren’t.  I was talking about my dog, John was talking about snoring.  There were no cats!’

‘Donald was talking about cats,’ Miko pointed out, defending her husband.

‘No, he wasn’t.  He was talking about beds.  There was no talking about cats!’

John spotted Tony peeping through the door.  ‘Get yourself in here and wipe up that milk. The rest of you?  Shut up, now! No more cats, dogs or canaries.’

‘I was…ngrngrn’ Rodney began, but John slipped his hand over his mouth.

‘No.  Nothing.  We’re having breakfast.  We eat, we drink, we smile.  No talking, no arguing.’

‘You’re talking,’ argued Tony, a safe distance from John’s hands.

‘Tony?  Shut up!’

Peace reigned for a few minutes, then there was a knock at the dining room door and one of the MI5 guards poked his head round.

‘Colonel Fitz-Sheppard?  Sir Harry’s here to see you.’

John sighed.  ‘Show him in please, Jim.  And will you ask the kitchen for some fresh tea and another cup?’

‘Yes, sir.’

‘Why do they all call you Colonel?’  Tony asked a question he’d been wondering about.  ‘I noticed most of the staff at Thames House call you Colonel as well.’

‘Perhaps because he is a Colonel?’ Rodney said sarcastically.

‘Boy, did you get out of bed the wrong side this morning,’  Tony told him. ‘I know he’s technically a Colonel, but he’s not in the Marines, sorry, Royal Marines any more.’

‘But he was when he first joined us,’ a new voice declared, and Harry Pearce joined them.  ‘John worked with us for a couple of years while he was still a serving officer. Most people used his title and thought no more about it.  Now, how is everyone?’

‘John’s been bullying us and he gave my dog away,’ Rodney said with a glare at his boyfriend.  ‘Radek’s been blathering on about cats and Tony’s been chucking milk around. How are you?’

 

————

 

They retired to the large sitting room where a fire had been lit in the grate.  John grabbed Rodney and pulled him down beside him on a small sofa and although Rodney scowled at him, he allowed himself to be tucked into John’s side.  The others scattered themselves around the room, with Miko settling herself on the floor close to the fire, leaning against Radek’s legs. Once settled, all eyes turned to Harry.

‘I wanted to get a few more details about this project that seems to be causing so many problems,’ he began.  ‘For a start, does it have a proper name? We’ve just been calling it ‘The Project’.’

Radek, Miko and Rodney glanced uneasily around the room.

‘Umm.  It is a top secret project, you know,’ said Rodney after a moment.  ‘If we tell you all, we might have to kill you.’

‘I’m more worried about the potential of the three of you being killed,’ said Harry, very seriously.  ‘Everyone here has top secret clearance and we’re all involved whether you like it or not. I don’t want the scientific data, that’s not important, but we do need to know just who knows what.’

Rodney, Radek and Miko exchanged glances again.

‘Right.  It has no official name as yet,’ Rodney began.  ‘We’ve been calling it Project Pegasus between ourselves, but I do stress that’s not official.’  He glanced at John who was frowning, and continued. ‘The three of us have done the most work on it and we each have a lab assistant who has worked on little bits, but nowhere near enough to be able to give away any information about it.’

‘But they do know the name and that it’s a weapon delivery system?’ Harry asked.

‘They know the name, because we have to call it something, but it isn’t a weapons delivery system.’

‘I understood that it was?’ Harry said.

‘So did I,’ John put in, still frowning.

‘I never said it was a delivery system,’ hedged Rodney, ‘because it isn’t.’

‘But it is a weapon.’

Rodney looked at Radek for some help.

‘Do we need to go into that?’ Radek asked.

‘Alright.  I’ll ask a different question.  Is Project Pegasus something other countries would like to get their hands on?’

‘Hell, yes!’

‘Ano!’

‘Yes, indeed.’

Harry’s eyebrows rose at the barrage of answers.  ‘Well, we’ve established that at least. Now what—’

‘Pegasus!’ John interrupted.  ‘I knew I’d heard that somewhere before.’

‘I believe it’s a small galaxy close to ours, isn’t it?’ Donald said, looking around.

‘Yes, it is,’ agreed Rodney, a little uncomfortably.  ‘John, please, shut up. Shut up now.’

John eyed him.  ‘Right, but you and I are having a chat later.  Because… Right. Later.’ He nodded.

‘Getting back on track.’  Harry looked at the scientists from DSTL.  ‘Just to clarify, only the three of you know exactly what Project Pegasus is?’

‘Yes.’

‘But your lab assistants know a little bit?’

‘Yes, but—’

‘Do they know enough to work out what the project is?’

Rodney sighed and looked at Radek and Miko.  ‘I didn’t think so, but now…?’

‘No, Rodney, I don’t think they know just what it is,’ Miko said quietly.  ‘We were each of us very careful to limit their access.’

‘Rodney, when you were debriefed after your kidnapping, you said the kidnappers wanted you to write down the details for them to make one of their own.  Did you get the impression they knew exactly what they were asking for?’ Harry folded his hands together.

Rodney thought for a moment, replaying the days he’d spent locked up and being tortured.  He shivered a little and John pulled him closer to his side.

‘No,’ he said eventually.  ‘They kept asking for a description and kept on telling me to write down everything I could about it, which I couldn’t even if I wanted to because it’s not like building a lego model; put brick A here, and brick B here.  No.  I’m sure they didn’t know what it is, they just know it exists and they want one.’

‘And let’s say, hypothetically, if they got the details, could they build one?’

Again, Rodney looked to his fellow scientists.  ‘I don’t think so. Some of the, the concepts are… things we’ve developed between us.  Without the background work we have, I doubt they could actually duplicate it. But then again, we have no idea of knowing just how advanced their science is.  If they were at the point we were when we came up with our… idea, they just might be capable of making the jump.’

‘I agree,’ said Radek.  ‘While we think we are years ahead of anyone else, it is very possible that they have been hiding just as we have.’

‘And if they were capable,’ Miko added, ‘and they were able to build…one, it would be very bad for everyone.’

‘Are we talking Manhattan Project bad here?’ Tony asked quietly.

‘No,’ said Rodney, very definitely.  ‘It’s not something that could end the whole world, but it is something we would not want our enemies to have, or would even,’ and he glanced at Tony, ‘want our allies to have, quite honestly.’

Tony sat up straight.  ‘Should I recuse myself here?’

‘I don’t think so,’ Harry said.  ‘If what Rodney says is true, even if you went back to NCIS and told them our scientists are developing a new weapon, yes Rodney, I know you haven’t confirmed it is a weapon, let me finish.  If you said that the UK has a new weapon, they wouldn’t be able to do anything with that because neither country shares experimental technology unless it’s something we’re working on together.  That’s correct isn’t it, Rodney?’

Rodney nodded.

‘The most they could do officially is ask to share the technology when it goes into production, I believe,’ Harry finished.

‘But unofficially?’ Donald asked.

Harry spread his hands.  ‘I really don’t know. Which is why I want Rodney and the Doctors Zelenka to remain here.  If anyone had access to your computers at DSTL, could they extract any information?’

‘Not enough to do anything with.’  Rodney looked at his colleagues. ‘We each keep our work on non-networked computers which we clear to portable drives each night.  We each keep the portable drives somewhere safe. They might be able to get bits and pieces, but it wouldn’t tell them much.’

‘Where are these portable drives kept?  Let’s say someone broke into your house again.  Could they find them?’

‘No.  We’re talking about tiny USB drives here.  I would think we each have them here with us.  You’d need each one of them to get the information you need, and even then, it wouldn’t be much use without us.’

‘So, if someone blew up this house, everything would be lost?’ John asked in alarm.

‘If we three were here, then yes,’ Rodney told him.  ‘Remember, John, the information is pretty useless without us three.  Even if someone managed to get the information and say Radek and Miko, without me, they wouldn’t be able to recreate… it.  We designed it that way to keep the information safe, and to keep each other safe. The idiots who took me the other day could have never got what they wanted from just me.’

‘But they don’t know that,’ Harry clarified.  ‘You are each still in danger.’

‘Well… yes, I suppose so,’ Rodney admitted.

‘Sooo,’ John paused, clearly thinking.  ‘You said Project Pegasus requires a number of different skills and uses concepts you three have developed between you, and you three are probably the top scientists in this country.’  He looked at Radek for confirmation.

‘There are a number of very fine scientists working outside of government circles since remuneration is always much better in private companies, but yes, I think it is fair to say that we three are among the top scientists in the UK.’

‘If not the world,’ added Miko, in such a matter of fact way that no one could accuse her of being conceited.

‘So it’s unlikely that just anyone could continue your work?’ John confirmed.

‘Yes, highly unlikely.’

‘Then are we sure that we’re looking at the right people behind the kidnapping attempts?’  There was a silence in the room as everyone thought about this.

‘Explain your thoughts please, John,’ Harry asked.

‘If it’s taken three of the best minds in the world’ – here he nodded to Miko – ‘to get Project Pegasus to its current state, just how many scientists in the world would be able to pick it up, even if they had all the notes and information available?  We’re not looking at a few mobsters who are after the Project, we’re looking at a country with vast scientific programmes.’

‘Unless those mobsters simply want to sell the information on,’ Tony pointed out.

‘No.’  John was very definite.  ‘There has to be a buyer, a country already in place.  You can’t just hawk details of a project like this around.  This is steal – or kidnap – to order. And if Igor Vasiliev is involved, we can be pretty sure Russia is the final destination.  This business with Weir is just a distraction. She may well be involved in selling US secrets to foreign powers, but the kidnappings are all being directed from Russia.  They have to be.’

‘And Kolya?  What about him?’ Tony asked.  ‘Where does he fit in? He’s a US citizen.’

‘I suspect Russia sent him to the United States when an opportunity arose to slip someone in as a refugee.’  Donald looked around the room. ‘The United States accepts a number of refugees each year, but the majority are women and children.  Male refugees, in great numbers, are rare, and backgrounds are checked quite vigorously. If a large number of men are accepted in an emergency situation, the checks will be more difficult to make.  This is when it is most opportune to place an agent into a foreign country and when I suspect the Russians would make their move.’

Harry nodded.  ‘I agree. I think we have to assume that Kolya is working for the Russian government but we will likely know by tomorrow.  He’s being transferred to our protection today and Adam and his team will be having a chat with him later this afternoon. For the moment, we protect our scientists but prepare for a further attempt to gain the information our enemies desire.’

 

————

 

They spent the rest of the day and Sunday relaxing.  Rodney and John disappeared for a while and returned downstairs in time for dinner, both with damp hair and looking pleased with themselves.  Tony opened his mouth to comment, but Donald grabbed his arm and shook his head, a warning frown on his face. Tony pouted but remained silent, and the evening passed quietly.

On Sunday they all took a long walk around the grounds of Holly Lodge with Brian, who’d been brought over for the day by Ronon, and following a traditional Sunday roast, all disappeared for afternoon naps.  They met up for afternoon tea although Miko was a little tearful after an emotional conversation with Meredith’s nanny, Clare, who had taken the small child to stay with her own aunt to keep her off the radar of anyone looking for leverage over any of the three scientists, as Harry had recommended.  She’d also had a rather complicated conversation with Meredith who couldn’t understand why Mumie and Tati weren’t there to put her to bed. Miko had come off the phone white-faced and shaking, and it had taken Rodney, Radek and Donald to assure her this was in Meredith’s best interests and she was better with a regular routine than in a strange house full of even stranger people.

 

————

 

John was tempted to take his scientists into Thames House with him on Monday morning, but even he had to admitted it was highly unlikely anyone could break into Holly Lodge to hurt them.  He did, however, go out to the Guard House at the front gate and speak to the team currently on duty. He’d checked the defences of the house before they had moved in and was content with the mixture of technology and good old fashioned brute strength that provided the house with its excellent security.  He’d been to several meetings there previously, both as an attendee and as part of a security team, so he knew the layout and the staff who looked after the house, as well as those who guarded it. There were no suspicious new members or replacements and everything appeared to be in order, so he finally agreed to trust the people there and go into work, taking Tony with him.

Donald had sent the psychological profiles he’d drawn up for Harry by email the previous day so John wasn’t surprised to see his boss reading them when he and Tony joined him in the conference room.

‘Are you happy with what Donald’s produced?’ he asked when he saw Harry had finished.

‘Very happy.  I’ll send copies to both you and Adam, and we may have to think about employing a profiler ourselves.  Zoe was very good and we do miss her in more ways than just her profiling talents, but it would be helpful to have someone as qualified as Donald is.’

‘Zoe?’ asked Tony.  ‘I don’t think I’ve heard anyone speak about her.’

‘She left us a couple of years ago,’ was all John would say.

Adam slipped into the room, along with Colin and Malcolm, and took the floor.

‘We spent a frustrating amount of time yesterday trying to get Kolya to answer our questions, but we pretty much failed.  Whoever trained him, trained him well. He’s not talking.’

‘Should we ask Ronon to have a word with him?’ John asked, spinning a pencil between his fingers idly.

‘I don’t think even Ronon could get anything out of him.’

‘Then we have to look at this another way,’ said Harry.  ‘I paid a visit to Holly Lodge on Saturday to see how John and his family were getting on.  John made a very good point about the Russians driving the search for information on Project Pegasus – which is what the scientists call it, Adam.  We agreed that Weir is probably nothing to do with the Russians wanting the scientists or their knowledge, but we do know she has had meetings with Kolya.’

‘Which are more likely to do with passing along the information she gets from this Senator,’ Tony added.

Harry nodded.  ‘I agree, but she may know something more about Kolya’s visit to the UK, and while she may not be involved in trying to get hold of Project Pegasus, she may have more information on it than we have.’

‘There was nothing on her hard drive about a Project Pegasus,’ Malcolm commented, ‘but then again, we weren’t looking for it by name.’

‘Then look again,’ Harry told him.  ‘We need to know if there is still a risk to our scientists or to the DSTL, or if we do actually have all of those involved locked up.’

‘And we still don’t know if there’s a leak from the DSTL and if there is, who is doing the leaking,’ Colin put in.  ‘We’re certain there’s nothing on Weir’s computer connecting her to anyone at DSTL, but that doesn’t mean anything as it could have been done on another computer.’

‘Say that again,’ demanded John.

‘All of it?’  Colin asked. ‘If there is a leak…’

‘No, about another computer.  Crap! We’ve assumed she always used her computer at work.  She probably has another one at home. We’ve been so bloody stupid!  We should have searched her home!’

‘And searched wherever Kolya was staying,’ Tony added.

‘I can’t believe we’ve all missed this!’  Harry slapped his hand down on the table. ‘We’ve been so wrapped up in protecting the scientists, we’ve forgotten our basic police work.  Damn it!’ He took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. ‘Right. We need home addresses, any addresses for Kolya, Weir, and the man in the morgue.  I’ve forgotten his name. We need teams out there, now. Use Gas Board identities, BT, anything you need. Get in those houses and find what you can.’  He looked around the table. ‘What are you waiting for? Go!’

There was a scramble for the door as the room emptied while Harry sat alone and cursed fluently.  It didn’t help the situation at all, but it did make him feel much better.

 

————

 

There was a clatter of china as Rodney replaced his cup on the saucer.

‘It’s nice coffee, but I do miss having a large mug to drink it from.  You just don’t get enough in a cup,’ he complained. ‘Right, we’ – and his swept arm encompassed Radek and Miko – ‘are going to use the small conference room as a makeshift lab.  You’re welcome to join us, Donald, if you want some company.’

‘Thank you, Rodney, but I think I shall make myself at home in the library.  The housekeeper, Mrs Thompson, said she’d have a fire made up in there and I expect I shall be very cosy.  She told me she’ll take refreshments in there at 11 o’clock and you’re all welcome to join me if you wish, but I’m sure she’ll take yours to you if you all prefer to remain working.’

Donald watched the three scientists leave the dining room, Rodney and Radek already arguing, with Miko ushering them in the right direction, almost unnoticed by her companions.

He finished his tea, quite content with the delicate china tea service they’d been using and made his way to the library which, he decided, was a rather optimistic name for a room with a few bookshelves of uniformly bound classics and a table of magazines and newspapers.  Nevertheless, he settled himself in front of the fire with a copy of The Times and quickly fell asleep.

He was woken somewhat later by a knock at the library door and Mrs Thompson poked her head around.

‘I’m sorry to disturb you, Dr. Mallard, but one of the staff said they heard a mobile phone ring in your room while they were cleaning.  They didn’t look for it of course, but the phone rang again and Millie thought you ought to know in case it was about something important.’

Donald stood, the unread newspaper tumbling to the floor.  ‘Thank you, Mrs Thompson. I’d quite forgotten about it.’

The housekeeper nodded and disappeared and Donald stretched, then ambled upstairs to fetch his forgotten cell phone.  It was his NCIS phone which he’d left in his medical bag, having been issued, along with Tony, a UK mobile phone containing the contact details for John and the other members of Section D he might have need to call.  He was actually surprised the NCIS cell had enough battery left to ring since he hadn’t bothered to charge it after being given the new phone by John, and sure enough, it showed battery charge at 2% when he dug it out from the depths of his bag.

He returned to the library and plugged in the phone to charge.  Someone had been into the library to build up the log fire and he settled himself back in his chair and picked up his abandoned newspaper, meaning to check for any messages when the cell was sufficiently charged.

Instead of reading, however, he found himself thinking about the NCIS office, and his own Autopsy, which he’d left in the rather nervous hands of Mr Palmer.  He had complete faith in the young man as a Medical Examiner but had noticed times recently when he disappeared for short periods of time, or reappeared from unexpected places, and this had begun to affect his work.  He’d intended to have a word with the young man and see if there was anything he should know about but Rodney’s disappearance had pushed all other concerns out of his mind. He would have to remember to sit Mr Palmer down for a chat when he and Tony returned to work.

His mind moved on to his old friend Jethro Gibbs, although the friendship between them had taken a sharp knock from the revelations of Jethro’s first marriage, a marriage Donald had known nothing about.  Donald was honest enough to admit he’d been hurt when details of Jethro’s dead wife and daughter became known, hurt because Jethro hadn’t wanted to share those details with a supposed close friend. Jethro was a different man now, after the loss of his memory although the memories had returned, for the most part, but the old Jethro hadn’t.  The new Jethro – and Donald admitted he hadn’t spent much time with him after his return – was hard and lacking in compassion, much more like Ziva in that respect. The old Jethro had certainly been hard but had a depth of sympathy and empathy which now appeared to be missing, earning his oft stated the second B is for bastard.

As his thoughts dwelt on the other members of their little NCIS family, the door opened to admit Rodney, Radek and Miko with Rodney and Radek still arguing.  Donald wondered idly if they’d ever actually stopped or if this was a new argument. Mrs Thompson also appeared, carrying a tray of tea and coffee, and a large fruit cake, the sight of which distracted Rodney from his discussion.

‘Mrs Thompson.  Will you come and live with me?  I’ll throw John out and make room for you.  I mean, he is pretty but he can’t make cakes like you can.’

Mrs Thompson just laughed as she poured the tea, but Donald noticed that she gave Rodney the largest slice of cake.

The ringing of his cell phone broke through the moans of pleasure Rodney was making as he munched his cake and Donald grabbed for it, not wanting to miss the call again.

‘Hello?’

Where the fuck are you, Ducky?  Why the fuck haven’t you answered your phone?

The yelling voice was heard by everyone and Donald checked that he hadn’t mistakenly pressed the speaker-phone button.

Ducky?  Ducky! Where the fuck… but the voice became muffled as Donald quickly headed out of the room.

Rodney looked across at his friends.

‘What a charming fellow.’

 

————

 

Chapter Eleven

 

It was mid afternoon before Harry was able to gather his agents and analysts – and one seconded NCIS agent – together.  John took the lead this time and made notes on the whiteboard as the reports were made.

‘We searched Weir’s flat in Battersea and we caught a break when Tony spoke to security to see if she was in.  Fortunately for us, she wasn’t so Teyla and I had no trouble gaining access as BT engineers while Ronon and Tony kept a lookout in case she came back.  If she is a CIA agent – and we didn’t find any proof either way – she’s extremely lax and needs some lessons on basic security. We found her laptop beside the bed – the twins are going through the copy of her hard-drive we made – and the password had been left at a string of zeros, so we had no problems accessing it.  A desk in her sitting room contained several files of top secret, eyes only documents – and her name isn’t on the list of who can see them. We photographed and replaced them but also found four fake US passports, two for herself, one for a man named Alex Brown with a photo of Acasta Kolya in it, and a blank one with no details or photo.  Probably waiting for someone who needs it or she may well be selling them. We don’t know.’ He paused to take a drink of water and make a couple of notes on the board.

‘We found a false base in one of the kitchen cabinets which also contained a number of documents we took photographs of.  There were certainly financial details there which will all need looking at and some papers were in languages we didn’t immediately recognise, although some of the letters looked possibly Cyrillic.

‘We did a basic check for bugs but didn’t find anything, and although it is possible all the documents were fake and the whole thing was a set up, it didn’t feel like that.’  He looked down at his notes. ‘We also found a box under her bed containing a Makarov pistol and ammunition.’

‘That’s a Russian weapon,’ Colin commented.

‘Yes, but it’s also a fairly old fashioned weapon.  I think the Russian intelligence services use a P-96 or GSh-19 now.  There are any number of reasons why she could have one, including that it was put there for us to find.’

‘But you don’t think it was a set up?’ Harry confirmed.

John shook his head.  ‘No, I don’t. I know places can be staged to look real, but if it was a fake it was a very good one.’

‘Thank you, John.’  Harry straightened a sheet of paper in front of him.  ‘Adam’s taken Zaf and Jo to search the other addresses we have but called in with details from Kolya’s address as they don’t amount to much.  They found a mobile phone which they’ll pass to the twins later, and apart from a few dirty clothes that was it. Kolya had paid for accommodation for three months in mid August and his landlady said he had two weeks left, so we can assume he came to London in early to mid August unless he was staying somewhere else before.  Ruth checked with the diary we pulled from Weir’s office and her weekly meetings with AK began in early August, which fits our timeline. Finally, Mrs Sidney said he spent a few days away at the start of October and he told her he’d gone to visit some friends. That might be when he went down to Wiltshire to look at the DSTL and see where Rodney lived, because I’m fairly certain he would have done a recce.’

‘Did his landlady say if he’d had any visitors?’ John asked.

Harry checked the notes Ruth had made.  ‘Apparently he sometimes spoke to people in the bar, but she couldn’t say if he’d arranged to meet them or just spoke to them.’  He paused for a moment. ‘We need to see what the twins can pull off Weir’s hard-drive and Kolya’s mobile and whatever else Adam comes up with, but Weir and Kolya are our main concerns.  Ruth’s looking through the documents you photographed, John, and should have a report by tomorrow morning.’ He sighed and shook his head. ‘I can’t imagine what the overtime bill will look like this month!  Go home, people, and enjoy the rest of Sunday if you can. We’ll meet back here in the morning.’

 

————

 

As soon as they walked into Holly Lodge that evening, Tony and John could feel the tension.  They exchanged glances and hurried to the sitting room, John holding onto Brian’s lead having called at John’s house before coming out to Holly Lodge since Ronon had decided to keep Brian in his known environment.  John was pretty sure his collection of DVDs and video games were also a factor but didn’t call his subordinate on this. Brian had gone mad when he’d spotted John, but after a minute or so of bouncing, cuddling and licking he’d looked around for Rodney.  Tony had sworn Brian’s tail had drooped when he realised Rodney wasn’t there.

The tugging on his lead now, however, proved he’d caught Rodney’s scent and as soon as John opened the sitting room door, Brian gave an almighty tug, pulled his lead out of John’s hand and hurled himself on Rodney.

‘Brian!  Oh, Brian!  I’ve missed you!’  The pair ended up on the floor so Rodney could hug him and Brian could lick every bit of Rodney’s skin he could reach.  ‘Daddy’s missed you so much, my baby!’

‘Baby?’ Tony murmured.  ‘He’s sixty pounds at least!’

Rodney heard that and glared at Tony as he covered Brian’s ears with his hands.  ‘Shut up! You’ll hurt his feelings!’

He continued petting his dog until John asked, quite plaintively, ‘Don’t I even warrant a ‘welcome home’?’

‘Welcome home and thank you for rescuing my dog from that barbarian,’ Rodney replied without looking up.

‘Rodney, Ronon isn’t a barbarian,’ John told him and as Rodney opened his mouth again, he continued, ‘and he isn’t a Wookiee either.  He’s been kind enough to look after Brian so he didn’t have to go into kennels.’

At that, Rodney covered Brian’s ears again.  ‘Don’t you listen to the horrid man. Daddy would never let him put his baby in kennels.  He would let Horrid Man sleep on the sofa though, or maybe in the shed!’

John threw his hands in the air in resignation.  ‘Never come between a boyfriend and his dog.’

Rodney ignored him in favour of his dog.

‘So,’ Tony began casually.  ‘Everyone alright? No problems?’

John remembered the tense atmosphere they’d both felt when they entered the house and looked around the room.  Three, no, four doctors? Check. Bruises, bloodstains or broken bones? Nope.

Rodney was on the floor, now rubbing Brian’s tummy as Brian lay on his back, front and rear legs akimbo.

‘I’m fine, now Brian’s been released from prison,’ he told them.  ‘But Donald’s all cut up about some git who phoned him and yelled at him.’

‘Rodney!’ said Donald sharply.  ‘I said I’d discuss it with Anthony.’

‘Oops.  Sorry.’ But he didn’t sound sorry at all.

‘Okay then, Ducky.  D’ya wanna discuss it now?’ Tony asked, with a raised eyebrow.

‘Have you had your cell phone switched on, Anthony?’

‘Umm, yes?  Ever since John gave it to me.’

‘No, your NCIS cell phone.’

‘No.  I threw it in my bag as I knew I didn’t need it.  Why? Did…’ John could almost see the cogs turning in Tony’s mind.  ‘Gibbs. Gibbs called didn’t he?’

‘Who’s Gibbs?’ asked Rodney, still rubbing Brian’s tummy.  ‘Is he the yelling git who called?’

John saw both Tony and Donald smother laughs.

‘Yes,’ Donald confirmed, still smiling.  ‘He said he’s been trying to contact you for several days with no success, so he tried my cell phone today.’

‘That is a most impressive battery life,’ Miko commented.  ‘My own mobile lasts for a couple of days at most.’ Radek nodded in agreement.

‘It was almost flat when I retrieved it, but yes,’ Donald agreed.  ‘It has a most impressive life. It’s a rather old phone you see and I remember when—’

‘Ducky,’ Tony interrupted.  ‘What did Gibbs want?’

‘Oh.  Well, he wants us to go back home.’

John frowned.  ‘I thought you both had a couple of weeks leave.  And Tony, you’re seconded to MI5 for the moment. You’re away for as long as we want you, or as long as you want.’  He sat down by Rodney and absently patted Brian’s head.

‘Officially we are on leave, yes.  But Jethro has little patience for officialdom at the best of times.  He was particularly upset that we hadn’t informed him about Anthony’s secondment and said he refuses to permit it, as, apparently, does the Director.’

He refuses to permit it?  What right does he have to refuse anything?’ John asked.  ‘Permission was granted by your Secretary of the Navy. It has nothing to do with anyone else.’

‘That’s never stopped Gibbs before,’ Tony told him wryly.  ‘He has his own rules…’ He paused then slapped his forehead.  ‘Which I’ve just shot to pieces!’

‘What rules?’ demanded John.

‘Jethro has a number of rules he bases his life around.’

‘So?  That doesn’t sound too bad,’ Rodney commented, now leaning against John’s legs, but still cuddling Brian who had draped himself over Rodney’s legs.

‘It depends what the rules are,’ Radek said, joining the conversation for the first time.  ‘There were rules in the past in Czechoslovakia that were beyond bearable and very bad for both our country and our people.  When such rules are imposed, it is very bad.’

‘Gibbs’ rules are… well, more a code to live by than anything,’ Tony explained.  ‘I’ve broken rule three wholesale since I’ve been here, and so have you Ducky.’

‘So I was informed this morning,’ Donald replied dryly.  ‘Rule three is ‘Never be unavailable’,’ he informed the rest of the room.

‘What happens if you do break a rule?’ Miko asked, voicing the very question John was thinking.

Tony grimaced.  ‘Well, I don’t know about Ducky, but I usually get my head slapped.’  He rubbed the back of his head in memory.

‘He hits you?’ John asked, incredulously.

‘Well, slaps me upside the head.’

‘And you fucking let him?  How is this man still in a job, or not in prison?’  John wanted to stand and perhaps pace but was held in place on the sofa by Rodney clutching his legs.

‘Well…’  Tony tried, but clearly struggled to justify his treatment at the hands – quite literally – of Gibbs.

‘I hope you told him to get stuffed,’ Rodney told his cousin who began to look a little uncomfortable.

‘Jethro is…  He makes it all appear quite normal at the office.  He doesn’t slap me, of course, but… it just appears normal,’ Donald finished quietly.

‘Donald, you do know this isn’t normal, don’t you?’ John asked, equally quietly.  He looked around the room. ‘I’m not the only one who doesn’t find it normal?’

‘No!’

‘Ne!’

‘Absolutely not!  And Brian doesn’t think it’s normal either.’

‘Tony?’  John asked.

‘I…  No. No, it’s not normal, I get that, but…’

‘No.  There is no ‘but’.  He needs reporting at the very least.’

‘I doubt that would do any good.’  Tony shrugged. ‘I told you the Director was a former lover.  She not only supports whatever he does, but refuses to support anything I may do even though I’m the senior agent on MCRT.’  When Miko looked puzzled at the letters Tony gave her a brief summary of NCIS and the reasons behind his leave. ‘Pretty much everyone lets Gibbs get away with whatever he wants, even SecNav on occasion,’ he finished.

‘Tony, you have to get away from there,’ John told him seriously.  ‘Find a new job. With your qualifications it shouldn’t be difficult.  Hell, come and join MI5! Harry’d have you like a shot, just, please, don’t go back there.’  John gazed at his cousin intently. ‘They don’t respect you or your qualifications.’

‘John’s right, Tony.  Don’t put yourself back in an abusive position,’ Rodney agreed.

‘It’s not…  It’s not abusive.  It isn’t.’ Tony’s voice faded.

‘Anthony.’  Donald leaned forward in his chair, hands clasped in his lap.  ‘Now I’m away from the office and am able to look at the situation from the outside, I have to agree with Rodney.  Jethro should not physically abuse you, and nor should he allow other members of the team to do the same. Remember what happened at the start of the year when Ziva shot you—’

This time John did leap up, dislodging Rodney from his position against his legs and making Brian growl.  ‘Your colleague shot you? She fucking shot you, and you still don’t find it wrong!’

‘She didn’t shoot me!’  Tony glared at Donald. ‘She fired her gun in a shipping container because she was scared and it just happened to hit me.’

‘I don’t believe what I’m hearing!’  John paced around the room, fury emanating from every pore.  Poor Brian was cuddled up to Rodney, ears down, tail tucked firmly between his legs.

‘John.  John!’ Rodney stood up, hands on his hips.  ‘Come back and sit down. You’re scaring Brian, and yelling at Tony isn’t helping.  Yell at this Gibbs git if you ever meet him, but don’t blame Tony. Or Donald,’ he added as John’s gaze swept over to Rodney’s cousin.

John took a deep breath and settled back on the sofa, Rodney at his side with Brian almost climbing into his lap, tail still curled underneath.  He petted both Rodney and Brian and glared at Donald, but the glare was down from incendiary to merely smouldering.

‘I do blame Donald.  He’s old enough and experienced enough to spot when someone is being abused and should have done something about it or at the very least report it to someone in authority.’

‘You are correct, John, and I apologise.’  Donald bowed his head. ‘I beg your pardon, Anthony, for not taking the proper action when I saw you were being abused by both Jethro and Ziva.  I can assure you it will not happen again. In fact, I can see a number of things which will not happen again, I promise.’

 

————

 

John was becoming very tired of the small conference room on the Grid.  He was sure he’d spent more time in here in the last ten or so days, than in the last year.  He glanced over to Adam who was looking equally jaded.

‘I’ll be glad when this is all over,’ Adam told him with a grimace.

‘You’ll be glad?  I woke twice last night when Rodney had a nightmare.  He seems fine during the day but subconsciously he’s still dealing with it if the shouting and thrashing about during the night are anything to go by.  Fortunately he doesn’t remember anything in the morning. He’s also tired of being away from his beloved lab. I’m pretty sure I’m only third on the list after Brian and his lab.’

‘You’re only third on what list?’ Tony asked as he and Harry entered the room.

‘Rodney’s list of who or what he loves most.’

‘I take it Brian’s still top then?’ asked Harry, aware of just how fond John’s partner was of his dog.

‘Of course he is.’  John shook his head in resignation.

‘I thought the CIA bods were joining us this morning,’ Adam said, looking around the room as though Jack et al might be hiding somewhere.

‘We decided on a video conference,’ Harry told him and, right on cue, Colin entered to sort out the link to the large screen at one end of the room.

‘I wanted a few minutes to go through what we actually want from O’Neill’s people without revealing all our hand at once.  He knows there’re things we’re keeping from him but that probably goes both ways.’

‘So much for ‘open and honest’,’ Adam murmured.

Harry ignored him and continued.  ‘We need to question Elizabeth Weir and that will probably ruffle a few feathers but if she really is a CIA agent they’ll be even less happy as her crimes are primarily against the USA.’

‘Although we could question her about having an unlicensed gun and fake passports,’ Adam pointed out.  ‘If she hasn’t got diplomatic immunity – and Jack would know if she has – it’s enough for us to bring her in.’

‘Do we really want to tell O’Neill how we know about that?’ asked John.  ‘He’s not going to be happy we broke into the home of a US national, no matter what her crimes might be.’

‘To be honest, I’m surprised O’Neill hasn’t had someone of his own around to her flat,’ Adam said.  ‘It’s certainly what we’d do.’

‘Maybe he has.’  John shrugged when they all looked at him.

‘The link’s ready when you are,’ Colin told Harry, handing him a control device for the screen.

‘Thanks, Colin.  So, what are our priorities?’

‘Question Weir.’

‘See if he’s got any more information on Kolya.’

‘Ask what the CIA director had to say about Elizabeth Weir.  Does he know why she’d have meetings or email exchanges with Kolya and Vasiliev.’

Both Harry and John nodded as Tony made his suggestions.  Donald had told John that one of Tony’s greatest talents was to cut through all the if’s and what’s surrounding a case and get straight to the centre of the investigation.  From the satisfied look on Harry’s face, he’d also been told this.

‘So, Weir is our focus.  We preferably want to question her ourselves but could work with Jack and his team if we have to,’ Harry concluded.

‘Mmm, but this might be to our advantage,’ John said, thinking it through.  ‘If she is CIA, she’s certainly not working with Jack and he’s going to want to know why but isn’t in a position to question her as he has no actual evidence to base a search on.  If she isn’t CIA, she may be being protected by someone with real clout in the US and the same thing applies, he can’t question her even with the knowledge we can give him regarding the documents in her possession.  We can because of her links with the men who kidnapped one of our top scientists. We have just cause to bring her in right away, CIA or not. Of course we’ll have to release her pretty quickly if she is CIA, but by that time we may have already got what we need from her, even if it’s just what’s on her mobile phone.  We can then share anything we get with Jack, if we want to.’

By this point, all heads were nodding.

‘Right,’ Harry said, satisfaction in his voice and on his face.  ‘We have a plan. John, as soon as we’ve finished with Jack you can go and get hold of Weir.  Colin, set up everything John’ll need to get her. Everyone ready?’

He clicked on the screen and the side of Jack’s head could be seen as he spoke with someone out of sight, probably Daniel Jackson from the sound of the second voice.

‘Jack?’ said Harry, loudly, trying to catch the man’s attention.

Jack’s head swung round and glared.  ‘Jeez, Harry! Give a man a heart attack, why don’t’ya!’  His gaze swung back to the person out of sight. ‘I’m just sayin’, Danny, go easy on the caffeine.  You were twitchin’ like a mad thing in bed last night. I’m covered in bruises.’ The voice off screen spoke but the MI5 people couldn’t quite hear what was said, although Jack’s comments alone were enough to put grins on their faces.

Jack turned back to them, face a little pink with what he’d unwittingly revealed.  ‘So. Okay. That’s not embarrassing. Anyhoo. Weir. General Hammond was unable to either confirm or deny Weir is one of ours.’  Jack spoke as if reading something from a script.

‘Which means…?’ asked Harry, motioning with his hand.

‘Well, as far as I’m concerned you can—’

The MI5 people watched in some bemusement as Jack, the London Station Chief, was firmly pushed out of the way and Daniel Jackson, his analyst, appeared on screen.

‘What Jack is trying to say is that Ms Weir does not fall under the purview of this Station,’ Daniel told them, staring directly, so it seemed, into each of their eyes.

Behind him, they could see Jack mouthing the word ‘purview’.  John smiled into his hand and saw Tony doing the same. He liked Jack O’Neill although he recognised he’d be a nightmare to work for or with.

‘So….’  Harry paused, clearly thinking of the words to use.  ‘She’s simply working in the UK for Mason’s Bank?’

‘Yes.’

‘And Kolya and Vasiliev?’

‘Mr Kolya has US citizenship and if he has violated the conditions of his visa, he must be either deported back to the US forthwith or deported following any sentence he might serve after being tried and found guilty of any crimes he may have committed.  If he should be sent for trial, we would expect our Embassy to be notified.’

‘And Vasiliev?’

‘Mr Igor Vasiliev is not a US citizen and we therefore can make no comment on his position or situation.’

Harry was smiling widely.  ‘Thank you very much, Mr Jackson.  Jack, you know you are always welcome here for a coffee and a chat, or perhaps afternoon tea?’

Jack looked a little puzzled but Daniel smiled and nodded.  ‘Thank you, Sir Harry.’

The screen went blank.

‘Who on earth ever thought Jack O’Neill would make a good Station Chief needs their bumps felt,’ Adam exclaimed, shaking his head in disbelief.

‘I suspect the Director knew exactly what he was doing,’ John said with a grin.  ‘Particularly by allowing Jack to appoint Daniel as his analyst.’

Harry was still smiling.  ‘I agree, but, John? Why are you still here?  Jack’ll be over for tea and interrogations at three o’clock so get your skates on.’

 

———

 

Chapter Twelve

 

‘Listen up, everyone,’ John began.  ‘The plan is we pick up Elizabeth Weir as she does her usual lunchtime sandwich run.  We’ve had some chaps keeping an eye on her for a few days and she generally leaves the bank at around 1pm to go to the coffee shop across the square.

‘Ronon and Teyla?  You’re the back-up to Tony and me as we move in on her, and you’ll be posted here.’  He pointed to the diagram of Queen’s Square on the whiteboard. ‘Malcolm, you’ll be in the van on comms here.’

‘What if she doesn’t come out?’ Tony asked, interested in how MI5 planned their missions and their use of technology to help them compared to the extremely low-tech MCRT.  McGee would be panting over the tech they have here.

‘If she doesn’t come out there’s not much we can do short of storming the bank to get her.  We’ll just come back tomorrow and the next day until she does make an appearance,’ John explained.  ‘Malcolm will connect to the bank security feed through the hack he made last week so we’ll have a heads up when she appears in the foyer.  Now, any more questions? No? Then let’s get going.’

 

At six minutes past one, Tony and John saw the dark haired woman they knew was Elizabeth Weir exit the bank and begin to walk across the square.  They shared a glance and moved to intercept her. They fell into step, one at either side, and each slipped an arm through one of hers. She looked at them in panic and tried to pull away, but they each gripped her more tightly and John spoke in a low voice.

‘We’d like you to come with us, Ms Weir.  We have a few questions we’d like to ask you.’

‘Let me go!  Who are you? You have no right—’

‘As I said, Ms Weir,’ John interrupted, ‘we’d like to ask you a few questions.’

John and Tony turned direction and walked her across to the waiting car, Ronon now in the driving seat.  She continued to try to pull away from them, but was clearly unwilling to cause a scene and they were able to push her into the back where Teyla was waiting.  John followed her into the back of the car, keeping Weir between himself and Teyla, and Tony slipped into the front passenger seat. The whole thing had taken less than three minutes.

Weir remained silent as they drove to Thames House and into the underground carpark.  She remained silent, in fact, until they had her seated in one of the interrogation rooms and Tony and Ronon slipped out – having also remained silent – to watch through the window from the adjoining observation room.

‘She’s a sour-faced puss, isn’t she?’ Tony remarked to Ronon who grinned back.

‘My Nan would have said ‘a face like a smacked bum’,’ which made Tony laugh.

‘What do we know about her?’ he asked Ronon, more to get to know his giant of a companion than seeking facts he mostly knew anyway.

Ronon shrugged, ‘46, single, two degrees, one in German with Russian, and a Masters degree in International Relations, whatever that means.  Former political activist, works in the HR department of Mason’s Bank, only child, lost her father in Vietnam when she was 13, and her only living relative is her mother who’s in her eighties.’

Tony smiled at the pithy reply which told him exactly nothing about Ronon, and watched with interest as John leaned against the wall inside the interrogation room while Teyla leaned against the wall behind Weir, out of her line of sight.  He was curious as to John’s interrogation technique and suspected it would be very different from his own ‘clown’ routine. John just watched her to start with. He didn’t say anything and didn’t do anything. He just stood and leaned and watched.

Weir was clearly discomforted.  She began shifting awkwardly in her seat and eventually shouted ‘What do you want?’

She became more and more agitated by John’s silent presence, totally ignoring Teyla, and suddenly stood up and approached him, raising a hand as though to strike him.  He caught it, held it and forced her back to her seat and down into a sitting position, then rested both hands on the table and leaned down into her face.

‘Why?’

She looked surprised, as though this was the last question she had expected, but turned her head to the side away from John and didn’t answer.

This time he slapped his hand down hard on the table and she physically jumped and looked momentarily frightened.

‘Why?’ he demanded.  ‘Why would you sell your country’s secrets to a foreign power?’

A look of contempt crossed her face as she watched him warily.

‘I’ve looked through some of the documents you had in your flat and that you’ve passed to the Russians.  There were details of other agents in there, agents that are probably dead now, thanks to you. Is this what you think your father died for?  For you to sell details of undercover agents to Russia and goodness knows who else? He would be so proud of you.’

She flew at him again, caught on the raw, but John easily forced her back into her chair again.

‘So why?  I’m curious.  Was it for money or sex or drugs?  Or just for kicks, just because you could?’

Two red patches appeared on her cheeks and she pressed her lips together, one elbow in the opposite hand, arms crossed, fingers twitching.

‘You simply wouldn’t understand,’ she said finally, and Tony started in shock, surprised she’d broken so quickly, so easily.

‘Try me,’ said John, his eyes narrowed into slits.  ‘Explain why you’d betray your father’s sacrifice for financial gain.’

‘My father left us!  He went away and got himself killed!  He was too old to be called by the Draft but decided to leave us anyway!  I can’t betray his memory because he betrayed us first!’

‘And that makes your betrayal to your country acceptable?’

Tony watched her becoming angrier and angrier and wondered at her lack of self control.  He’d been taught interrogation techniques at the Police Academy and FLETC – Federal Law Enforcement Training Centre – and through working with Jethro Gibbs which was much more useful.  He’d always supposed CIA agents had similar, if not better training, and was beginning to wonder if they’d all been mistaken and she wasn’t a CIA agent at all.

The door to the observation room opened and Jack O’Neill, accompanied by Harry Pearce, entered.

‘Has she said anything yet?’ Harry asked.

‘Only to excuse herself for her treason.  She misses her daddy who selfishly went and got himself killed, and now blames him for pretty much everything.’ Tony glanced at Jack.  ‘Are we sure she’s a CIA agent because she damn sure ain’t acting like one.’

‘Let’s say she’s still nominally on their payroll,’ Jack replied, leaning back against the window.  ‘She’s been on unpaid leave for about eight months following a family bereavement. She held a couple of posts overseas for a few years after training but then began throwing her weight around and upset pretty much everyone, so she was shipped back to the US and put on desk duty at Langley where a close eye was kept on her and—’

‘Just a minute,’ Tony interrupted.  ‘Back up a little. She’s on leave following a family bereavement?  What family? We were told she had no one, except her mother in Philadelphia, since her father died in ’73.’

‘Who told you that?’

Tony glanced at  Harry who looked as surprised as he felt.

‘Give me a minute,’ Harry said pulling out his phone and slipping out of the room.  He was back within a couple of minutes, a frown on his face.

‘One of our analysts pulled as much information on her as she could and according to the information Weir gave her University in 1978, she only has one living relative, her mother, who lives in Philadelphia on a small war widow’s pension.  Our analyst discovered she’d moved into a retirement home a few years ago and called them to verify the information before she passed it on to me. Her mother never remarried and Weir has no other close relatives, so why would the CIA think she has?  Surely they checked up?’

Jack grimaced.  ‘Not necessarily.  They might have just taken her word for it and since it’s unpaid leave it’s not costing them anything, other than keeping an opening for her.’

‘But if she’s lied about this…’ Ronon didn’t finish his rumbled sentence since it was clear Jack understood what he meant.

‘Yeah, what else’s she lied about.  I probably need to speak to George Hammond again.’

The four men had stopped paying attention to what was happening in the interview room but they now watched as John and Teyla left Weir and John came to join them.

‘She’s nuts,’ he said succinctly as they all watched her pace the room, stopping occasionally to glare at the mirror behind which she must know she was being observed, all the while muttering to herself.  ‘I have no idea why the CIA employed or continues to employ her, if she is CIA at all.’

Tony glanced at Jack who gave John a brief account of her employment history.

John frowned.  ‘Don’t the CIA do yearly evaluations on their staff?’

‘In usual circumstances, yes, but it’s possible she’s not been evaluated for a couple of years as she’s been on leave.’

‘No,’ said John decisively.  ‘I’m no psychologist, but I’d say this behaviour of hers is pretty long standing.  She seems to think she’s owed something by the US Government, probably because of her father.  I’m actually surprised the CIA ever employed her, given her past as a political activist. It would throw up an immediate red flag for MI5.’

‘Political activist?’ Jack repeated carefully.

The others looked at him in surprise.

‘She was a professional activist before she was recruited,’ Harry told him.  ‘Worked for one of the ‘Stop The Bomb’ groups, I can’t recall which one. She went straight from there to the CIA and appeared on our lists when she spent a few months in London in the nineties.’

‘There’s no record of this in her CIA file at all,’ Jack said grimly.  ‘It simply says she did some charity work after leaving College and before being recruited.’

‘Which I suppose is partly true.’  Tony shrugged. ‘It was a charity but she was salaried.’

‘How did you get this information?’ Jack asked desperately.  ‘How did you find all this out while the CIA were unable to get any of it?’

John looked at his companions and shrugged.  ‘We have good analysts?’

Jack sighed and closed his eyes.  ‘I need to speak to George. Did you get anything else from her?’

‘Well, strictly speaking I didn’t get this from her,’ John pointed out.  ‘All I got was a lot of whining about how her awful father ruined her and her mother’s lives, and that she doesn’t see her treason as, well, treason.  She says the US government deserves it because she’s so badly paid and her job is boring and that she’s not betraying secrets, just selling information, which she doesn’t get from the CIA anyway, so how can it be treason?’

‘She… what the fuck?’

‘As I said, she’s crazy.  She honestly can’t see why anyone would be upset at her selling information to Vasiliev – yes, she was happy to name him as her paymaster.  When I asked about Kolya she just scowled and called him a bastard.’

‘Where’s she getting the information from, then?’

‘From her father’s friend, Landry,’ Harry told him.  ‘We now have proof. He’s on the Senate Intelligence Committee and he passes her anything he thinks she can sell.’

What the actual fuck?

For a moment Tony thought Jack might have an aneurysm there and then, and he clearly wasn’t the only one as John grabbed his arm and made him sit down, pushing his head down between his knees.

‘Jack, breath!’

‘No, stop it, I’m fine,’ Jack argued, trying to fight John off.

‘No, you’re really not.  Take deep breaths.’

Harry thrust a bottle of water into Jack’s hand.  ‘Drink this, you’ll feel better. Ronon, John, put Weir in one of the cells and keep an eye out for any signs of recognition from our other guests as you take her there.  Tony, help me get Jack back up to my office. I’ve a bottle of single malt that’ll make us all feel a lot better.’

Tony did as he was told and between them, they got Jack seated in an armchair with a glass of Talisker in his hand.  He went to take a sip but pulled a face at the smell.

‘What the…  Is this liquid tar?’

Harry scowled at him.  ‘No, it isn’t, it’s finest 30 year old Islay malt.  You won’t get better! Drink it and shut up!’

Hesitantly, Jack took a sip and Tony watched him swill the liquid around his mouth and swallow.

‘Oh!  That is so smooth!’

Tony took a sip of his and while he too got the smokiness, the taste was very different.  Scotch wasn’t really his drink, although he supposed this wasn’t just generic ‘scotch’. He took a second sip and decided that while scotch wasn’t his drink, this malt could easily become so.

John slipped into the room and his eyes lit up at the sight of the bottle on the desk.

‘Talisker 30?  You are spoiling us, Harry!’

Harry smiled in response.  ‘Feeling better, Jack?’

‘Better still with a drop more of this.’  Jack passed his glass over for a refill.

Harry laughed and poured a little more of the golden ambrosia into Jack’s glass.

‘Right,’ Jack said to the room in general.  ‘Tell me again what that crazy bitch downstairs has done.’

‘She receives regular deliveries of documents from Senator Henry Landry, who copies what documents he has access to as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and passes them on to her,’ John explained.  ‘In return, she pays a regular amount into his offshore bank account, keeping the remainder of the money from Igor Vasiliev for herself. The documents are passed to Vasiliev in a variety of ways; post, through an intermediary in a variety of locations, or via a dead letter drop.  She sends Vasiliev a text message when she has something for him and it contains a letter, A B C type letter, telling him which delivery option she’s going to use and, if relevant, where.’

‘She told you all this?  No hesitation? No having to… persuade her?’

‘She’s quite frank about it all.  As I said, she doesn’t see what she’s doing as wrong.  She’s not taking the information herself – although I suspect if you look back far enough to when she had access to more sensitive material, you might find that some of it made it’s way into Russian hands.  As far as she’s concerned Landry gives her the information and she just sells it on.’

‘That makes him just as guilty of treason!’

‘Well, it would in the UK, but apparently you have very different laws in the US,’ John said carefully.  The other three men looked at him questioningly.

‘Weir said that it’s only treason if the information helps an enemy make war against the USA.  And her information hasn’t done that since you’re not at war with Russia. She also said that she’s not committed espionage as she’s neither taken the information herself, nor sold it to a foreign power, simply to a foreign national.  If she’s correct – and Ruth’s looking into it – I’m not sure that she is guilty of either treason or espionage against the state.’

‘Of course she’s guilty!’ Jack snapped.

‘Oh, I agree.  She’s guilty as hell for selling US secrets but you’ll need to check the wording of your laws because she may well be able to wriggle out of a conviction if she gets a good solicitor.‘  John gave Jack a level look. ‘Of course, that’s if it gets to court.’

Tony and Harry both nodded, recognising what John was saying, but Jack was still looking angry.

‘Why wouldn’t it get to court?  We need to nail her ass!’

Harry gave him a little smile.  ‘Jack. I think you need to discuss this with Daniel.  He’ll be able to explain.’

‘What?  Why would—’

‘Jack.  Just tell Daniel what we’ve discussed and he’ll clarify things for you.  Life in the forces can be very black and white but real life isn’t like that.’  As Jack opened his mouth to argue, Harry just repeated himself. ‘Talk to Daniel.’

He turned his attention back to John.  ‘You said she called Kolya a bastard. What else did she say about him?’

‘Not a huge amount, but you know we initially thought she was controlling him?’

Harry nodded.  ‘Go on.’

‘I don’t think she was in charge at all.  I think Kolya was controlling her.’

Harry sat back in chair thinking this through.  ‘Go on,’ he said again.

‘Our assumption, my assumption, was that Kolya was the middle man who passed information on to Vasiliev who we know has connections with the Russian government.  Weir, though, says she passed her information to Vasiliev directly, or at least not through Kolya. We know, however, that she’s had meetings with Kolya. Why would she need to do that?  It’s just another person to take a cut of whatever she made.

‘My belief is that she’s had a long term agreement with Vasiliev because some of the documents we found in her desk had dates on them much earlier than the last year or so.  She’s been doing this for a while. But it’s possible that her association with Kolya is much more recent and is about a totally different matter. What if he’d been planning to kidnap Rodney for a while?  Or was at least looking for information from DSTL and thought she’d be able to help him?’

‘But there was nothing on her hard-drive to suggest she’s had any contact with DSTL,’ Tony protested, then stopped.  ‘Her hard-drive at the Bank. We don’t know what’s on the one from her apartment yet. Or what’s on her cell.’

John smiled at him in encouragement.

Tony continued slowly, working it all out as he spoke.  ‘She checked out the DSTL, maybe met someone from there.  One of Rodney’s lab assistants. They’d likely speak to another woman, far more than they would a pock-marked man with a foreign accent.  If she flattered them, or even paid them, they might be tempted to talk about what they were working on and who was in charge of it. It’d then be easy for Kolya to pick a few men to kidnap Rodney and get him to tell them what he knew, except Rodney held out and we rescued him.  So they went after him again and the Zelenkas in case they couldn’t get Rodney to talk.’

‘Weir didn’t need to be involved in that,’ John agreed.  ‘She just needed to get the initial information. I bet if we ask her about the DSTL she might give us something.’

‘What about your people at the Embassy, Jack?’ Harry asked suddenly.  ‘Were they deliberately keeping information from you?’

Jack grimaced.  ‘Not as such. They just resented me getting the job.  The senior guy there expected to get promoted to at least Deputy, if not Head of Station, and he was disappointed when Carter and I turned up.  Then I moved my office out of the Embassy to keep’em all at arm’s length, but it meant he was in charge back there. He managed to keep me out of the loop on a number of things and got away with it.’  Jack smirked. ‘He’s on his way back to the US now, suitably chastened, and I’m going to have to get some new people in, or at least Carter is. She can deal with this shit since she should have known what was going on as my deputy.  It’s got nothing to with Weir, though.’

‘So we need to see who or what she discovered at DSTL.  Probably someone in Rodney’s lab who’s willing to gossip or just plain sell information.’  Tony sighed. ‘He’s not gonna be happy.’

‘No, he’s not,’ John agreed.  ‘We also need to know if there are any other people out there who are still after him and the Zelenkas ’cause Miko wants to go home and see her baby again, and Rodney wants to get back to his lab.’ John grinned.   ‘He says he can’t imagine what mess the monkeys might have made by now.’

Tony laughed.  ‘I can just hear him saying it!’

 

————

 

Harry watched as Jack O’Neill left the Grid to go and discuss the intricacies of US law with his partner, then relaxed back into his chair and surveyed the two younger men, now bickering good-naturedly over the superiority of malt whisky versus bourbon.  He could see the relationship between the two was much better than when Tony had first arrived. They were each much more comfortable and open in their dealings with one another and their friendship was obvious.

They worked well together, Harry decided, and he could see why Tony had such a good reputation amongst the other US alphabet agencies.  He’d spoken to a few contacts in the US about Anthony DiNozzo before seconding him to MI5, and discovered Tony was spoken of with great respect and admiration.  Several agencies asked if he was in the market for a permanent position as they would be interested in his recruitment but Harry was quick to point out the secondment was only a short-term posting.  He admitted privately to himself that he would be happy to make the posting permanent if Tony so wished as MI5 would certainly benefit from another man who made intuitive links between supposedly disparate facts, just as John was wont to do.  It must be a family trait, Harry decided. I wonder if there’s another brother or sister or cousin out there.

Having spent enough time admiring his staff, Harry’s mind turned to the increasing number of people locked in the cells underneath Thames House.  He now had nine of them, and though eight had been caught in the act of kidnapping or attempted kidnapping, Weir was an entirely different kettle of fish.  Possession of an unlicensed firearm and three forged passports was probably enough to hold her for the moment, but since her more serious crimes were against her own country, they were on quite shaky ground regarding any longer term detention, especially since MI5 had no rights of arrest.

The opening of one of the security pods onto the Grid caught his eye and Harry groaned, thus catching the attention of the two cousins, still bickering good-naturedly.  They both followed his line of sight and John groaned too.

‘What the fuck does he want?’

Tony looked enquiringly at Harry who grimaced.

‘Oliver Mace, self appointed-pain-in-the-arse to MI5!’ he sighed.  ‘He’s the chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, the body which supervises the Security Services, but he has a distinct hatred of MI5 and John in particular.  I don’t trust him as far as I could kick him!’

Mace was making his way to Harry’s office and John stood, about to leave, with Tony doing likewise a few seconds later.

‘No, sit down,’ Harry ordered.  ‘I’m less likely to punch him if you’re here.’

‘And I’m not?’ John asked, a glint in his eye.

‘Sit down and share the pain!’

 

Mace swept into Harry’s office without knocking.

‘Harry, John,’ he acknowledged, then turned his gaze on Tony who smirked at him.  ‘And you must be the… American.’

‘Only half American.  The other half is pure spite.’

Harry’s lips twitched while John covered his mouth with his hand to hide his grin.

‘I must say, Harry, that I disapprove of allowing foreigners onto the Grid.’  Mace looked Tony up and down.

Harry ignored him.

‘Run off and play, children,’ Mace told John and Tony.  ‘The grown-ups need to talk.’

‘Stay right where you are, John and Tony.  Mr Mace will be leaving shortly,’ Harry told them.  They both took their seats and John picked up his whisky glass and sipped it, smirking at Mace over the rim, who coloured slightly and sat in the chair Jack had previously occupied.

There was a silence in the room.  John and Tony relaxed and sipped their drinks, exchanging smirks every so often, while Harry dealt with paperwork on his desk, ignoring Mace who became increasingly restless.

‘I wanted to talk to you privately,’ he said at last.

‘And I wanted England to beat the All Blacks,’ Harry said, not lifting his head.  ‘We don’t always get what we want in life, though.’

Mace glared at Harry but Harry simply ignored him, refusing to be cowed by an oik such as Mace, and John and Tony followed suit.

Mace broke first.  ‘I have received a complaint that you are holding an American citizen for questioning,’ he said imperiously.

That is interesting.  I wonder where he got his information from, and so quickly.

‘I have spoken to the US Embassy and they say they have not been notified of any reason you might have for detaining one of their citizens,’ Mace continued.

‘Does this citizen have a name?’ Harry asked, politely.

‘How many Americans could you possibly be holding!’ Mace demanded.

Harry said nothing.

Mace waited until it was clear Harry wasn’t going to answer him, and reluctantly ground out ‘Weir.  Elizabeth Weir. She’s a… she’s a banker and your underlings snatched her illegally from the street earlier this afternoon.’

He must have had someone watching to know when and where we picked her up.  Were they watching her or us?

Harry glanced almost imperceptibly at John who gave an equally imperceptible nod, stood and left the room.  Tony never blinked but remained where he was and Harry made a mental note to see if there was any way he might persuade Tony to stay with MI5.

‘You’ll have to give me a few more details, Oliver, as I can’t bring to mind any… banker my underlings might have snatched from the streets,’ Harry said, face immobile.

‘She’s not a banker, she’s a CIA agent working undercover!’ Mace snapped.

‘Then why did you say she was a banker?  And why has someone other than the CIA complained to you?’

‘This comes from people way above the CIA.  This comes from the Senate Committee for Intelligence.’

Landry.

 

———

 

Chapter Thirteen

 

‘Colin, Malcolm, Ruth – small conference room, now!’  John turned from the analysts and headed to Adam’s desk.  ‘Adam, I need you. Mace had someone watching when we picked Weir up earlier.’

Adam looked up and frowned.  ‘What? Who?’

‘That’s just what we need to find out as soon as possible.’  John led the way towards the conference room, Adam behind him.  The junior members of their teams were taking turns watching their basement guests, with Zaf and Jo below stairs at the moment, so John gathered up his own team members and shut the door firmly as soon as they were all seated at the conference table.

‘Someone was watching Weir when we took her.  Mace says he’s had a complaint from the US—’ He paused as his mobile vibrated in his pocket and he pulled it out, swearing fluently as he read the message from Tony.  It was just one word. Landry.

‘Okay, scratch that.  Tony says the complaint came from Landry, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, the US counterpart to the JIC.  It’s possible that Mace knows him although I don’t know what position Landry holds on this committee.’

Ruth typed quickly on her laptop.  ‘Henry Landry, Republican, Vice Chairman.  He supplied her with SIC documents to sell, Adam.  He was a friend of her father’s.’ She looked up from her screen.  ‘Why would he have had watchers on her? And which agency would they have come from?’

‘Are we looking at this the wrong way round?’ John asked with a frown.  ‘We know they’re not CIA as Jack knew next to nothing about her unless Langley kept him out of the loop which is unlikely.  What other US agency has the resources or the permission to operate in Britain? What if…’

‘It was someone else?’ Adam finished, seeing where John was going with this.  ‘Some other agency…’

‘Like the Russians,’ finished John, grinning at Adam.

Colin and Malcolm were both busy tapping on their laptops, muttering in undertones to each other.

Ruth stood, gripping her own laptop in her hand.  ‘I’ll go and see if we’ve picked up any chatter about Weir.  We’ve been listening for ‘Kolya’, but we’d let ‘Weir’ drop when we discovered she was no longer CIA.’

John was reading another text which had come through.  ‘Tony says Mace still thinks Weir is CIA, or at least that’s what he’s been told.  Maybe Jack didn’t tell us the truth.’

‘Or maybe Mace’s informant didn’t realise she’s been on leave for several months?’ Teyla suggested.

John nodded at his team-mate.  ‘Good point, Teyla. Okay, we need to find where Mace got his information from.  Malcolm…’

‘Already on it, old boy.’

‘Colin?’

‘Likewise.’

‘Right.  Get on with it, people.  Let me know when you get anything.’  He turned to Adam and grinned. ‘Want to come and try a little Mace-baiting?  Grab our laptops.’

John took his previous seat in Harry’s office as though nothing had happened while Adam dragged another chair over and picked up Jack’s abandoned glass.

‘Whose was this?’ he asked glancing towards Mace.  ‘Will I catch anything if I use it?’

Harry removed the used glass from his hand and poured a finger of malt into a new one.  ‘This isn’t an open bar, you know. And that’s the last clean glass I have,’ he told Adam, not bothering to offer a drink to Mace.  He was aware of the danger in poking such a bear with a stick, but the man was so objectionable that Harry couldn’t bring himself to chastise his officers when they indulged themselves by tormenting him, and certainly not when he was quite happy to do the same himself.

At the moment, it was a standoff.  Mace wanted Weir released but obviously didn’t know how much MI5 knew about her.  Harry and his officers, meanwhile, needed to discover what Mace knew about the situation and where he’d acquired his information, so Harry was content to let the youngsters play with their prey until he either broke and told them what they wanted to know or exploded from irritation.  Either way, he was going to have fun watching.

Thus, almost an hour passed, during which Harry managed to get a fair amount of paperwork done and John and Adam worked on their laptops whilst chatting with Tony and each other about any number of subjects including schools, universities and the various families they knew, all intended to increase Mace’s ire.  Harry, for his part, was impressed at the speed at which Tony picked up on what John and Adam were doing by adding his own comments on topics chosen to illustrate Mace’s exclusion from the very society to which he so greatly desired to belong. Harry had no idea how he managed to keep a straight face when Tony asked John if ‘Uncle Patrick’ still used his club, since Harry knew Mace had been refused membership there on more than one occasion.

‘Father tends to stay at the Guards when he comes up to town,’ John explained.  ‘He says Whites has become infested with civil servants and when I told him I was, to all intents and purposes, a civil servant, he looked at me over his specs and said at least I had the decency not to inflict my chosen profession on other more fortunate people.’

The four men watched in awe as Mace’s face first went pale, then became increasingly purple, until Harry was sure they would have to call for an ambulance.  To their rather reluctant admiration, however, Mace managed to retain his composure and his both his colour and his anger subsided.

He finally stood and glared at the four men.  ‘I want Weir released immediately. You have no grounds for detaining her and if you fail to release her forthwith, I shall have no option but to place this entire section under review.’

With a final scowl he grabbed his overcoat and marched out of the office.

Harry and his officers looked at each other.

‘I’m pretty sure he means it,’ John said, and the others nodded in agreement.

Harry reached for his phone and ordered her release.  As he replaced the handset he gave a small smile. ‘Well done.  That bought us enough time to have the twins set up surveillance on her and slip one of the location trackers into her water.  We can now track all her movements for roughly the next forty eight hours.’

Harry watched as his agents left his office, all with big grins on their faces.  Sometimes I really love my job.

 

————

 

As Tony settled into the pool car they’d been lent, John called over to Adam who was just unlocking his own car.

‘Come and have dinner with us tonight, Adam.  We already have a houseful so one more isn’t going to make any difference.’

Adam nodded.  ‘Thank you. I will.’

‘Ruth told me Adam lost his wife sometime last year,’ Tony said to John as they pulled out of the underground car park.

‘She died in his arms after a case went wrong a year ago today,’ John told him, weaving the car in and out of the rush hour traffic, Adam following behind them.  ‘It’s why we didn’t want to give him much time today to brood.’

Tony nodded.  ‘Is that why you went Mace-baiting?’

‘Nah.  That’s just pure good fun, plus the twins needed time to set the other stuff up.  We knew when he arrived Mace would demand Weir be released.’

There was silence between them for a while, then Tony said, a little enviously, ‘You really enjoy your job, don’t you?’

‘It has it’s moments, and I hate only being able to see Rodney at a weekend and not always then, but…yeah.  I suppose I do.’

‘Can you imagine doing anything else?’

John shot him a quick glance, seeing the pain on his cousin’s face clearly, even in the dark of a late October evening, and realised the question wasn’t about himself at all.

‘I can, actually,’ he replied carefully.  ‘If I thought it would be better for me or for my family and those who loved me then, yes, I can imagine doing something else.  I’m John Fitz-Sheppard first and foremost. I might also be Colonel John Fitz-Sheppard and Officer John Fitz-Sheppard, but they aren’t titles that define me.  I’d happily be John McKay if I thought Rodney would have me. I enjoy my job and would be loath to give it up, but if Rodney asked me or my family needed me to?  Yes. Like a shot, especially if I can have Rodney by my side. He’s my partner, my axis, my everything. Anything else is just jam.’

Tony was silent for a long time and John guessed he was thinking about what defined him.  Harry had explained to John what his background checks on Tony had turned up and how he was unsure if Tony was aware of the number of alphabet agencies who would love to hire him.  He’d added that he would be very interested in taking Tony on for MI5 himself. While they had a number of very qualified people an increasing amount of their operations were made alongside law enforcement personnel of various kinds: police, immigration, customs and excise.  Having an experienced law enforcement officer – even one trained in US law – would be extremely useful, and they’d both agreed that Tony would quickly learn what he needed to know about relevant UK law to go alongside his law degree from Georgetown.

As the car approached the small village where Holly Lodge was situated, John spoke again, quietly.

‘Tony.  You do know you have other options, don’t you?  With qualifications like yours as well as your experience, you could get a job pretty much wherever you wanted.  It’s just up to you. Decide what you want and where you want to do it.  Don’t settle for second best or stay somewhere out of some misguided sense of loyalty.  Loyalty doesn’t pay the bills or put food on the table and it certainly doesn’t keep you warm at night.  Your family is here in the UK and we’ve all missed you. I’m glad to have my friend back and Dad and David both want to know when you’re going to visit Grantworth, and don’t forget the Paddingtons.  Eddie and Clive would be furious if you visited Dad without going to see them too. You’re all they have left of their sister, don’t forget that.’

Checking Adam was still following, John indicated to turn into the drive of Holly Lodge and pulled up at the gate house.

‘Good evening, Colonel Fitz-Sheppard.’  The guard touched his cap as John wound down his window, then peered at the passenger seat.  ‘Evening, Mr Tony.’

‘Adam Carter’s following us.  He’s coming for dinner,’ John told him with a grin.  It amused the hell out of him that all the staff and guards had taken to calling his cousin ‘Mr Tony’.  Apparently Mr DiNozzo was a bit too foreign for them.

‘No problem, Colonel.  I’ll radio George at the front door and let him know.  Have a good evening, sirs.’

‘Thanks, Jason.’

John drove off slowly as he watched Jason stop Adam’s car and have a good look around and in it.  The guards at Holly Lodge were mostly former military themselves, employed by MI5 and extremely professional both to visitors and other MI5 personnel.  He was very happy to have them look after his scientist and all the other people he appeared to be collecting, but he just wanted to get the case sorted out so they could all go home.

He was surprised to see Brian heading towards them as he and Tony went through the front door, Adam shortly behind them.  With an almighty ‘woof’ the bearded collie launched himself at John who hurriedly dropped to his knees to avoid being knocked over by the heavy dog.  Brian did his usual trick of rolling onto his back to have his tummy rubbed and both John and Tony obliged, laughing at the happy dog.

John looked up to see Rodney enter the hall.

‘You were supposed to stay hidden, you stupid mutt,’ Rodney told Brian.  ‘Not run and greet him at the first opportunity.’

‘What is Brian doing here?’  John raised an eyebrow.

‘Having his belly rubbed?’ Rodney suggested hopefully.

‘Rodney.’

‘John.’

‘Rodney!’

‘I missed him, okay?  I missed him and…I… um…’

‘Rodney!’

‘Okay, I went to get him.  I got George to drive me to your house and I went to get him.  He was lonely with Ronon at work all day and there’s no dog walker for him in London so…  I went to get him.’

‘You do understand why we’re here, don’t you?  For your protection.’

‘I know!  But…I missed him.  And he missed me. And anyway, he can help protect us.’

John looked down at Brian, on his back, legs splayed apart and tail wagging, and he sighed.  ‘Of course he can.’

 

Dinner was a pleasant meal, particularly as Mrs Thompson was such a splendid cook.

‘Are you sure she can’t come home with me?’ Rodney asked for the umpteenth time, but John just ignored him.

He was pleased to see Adam relax and enjoy himself as it had been a very difficult year for him.  After Fiona was killed, Adam lost himself for a while. His son, Wes, had finally gone to live with his maternal grandparents which reduced the pressure on Adam, but meant he only saw his son occasionally and once he was back to full fitness, it also meant he had a lot of time to brood.  Evenings like this were good for him and John made a mental note to invite him for supper more often.

They were just settling down to enjoy coffee in the sitting room when Jim, one of the ‘inside’ guards, asked to speak with John.  John started towards the door and found Tony and Adam right behind him.

‘Adam, stay here with the scientists.  Tony and I’ll go and see what’s happened.’

He saw Donald move into his recently vacated seat next to Rodney and tried to smile reassuringly at them both.

‘It’s probably nothing.  Stay here and we’ll go and see.’

Rodney nodded, but John noticed he clutched at Brian who was cuddled up next to him on the sofa.  He glanced at Tony and they each moved their hands closer to their side arms and slipped out of the room.

‘There’s a bit of a disturbance at the gate house, sir,’ Jim explained to John.  ‘We’re a little worried it might be some sort of diversion so we’ve alerted all the teams and pulled some of the outside men closer to the house.’

‘What sort of disturbance?’

‘Two men and two women in a car tried to gain entrance and threatened Jason when he refused to let them in without proper authority.  He asked the driver to step out of the car, but when he stepped forward to search her she tried to attack him, then the rest of them got out.  Sean was inside the gate house and he called for backup and began to lock down the house and grounds, then notified Thames House we had a possible incursion.  They’re putting a helicopter in the air in case we need to evacuate.’

John nodded.  This was all according to the protocols he himself had written for Holly Lodge.  ‘Have the police been sent for?’

Jim looked a little discomforted.  ‘Well… no, sir.’

‘Why not?  Sean should have called them as soon as he initiated lock down.  We don’t want to have unfriendlies locked in with us and we certainly don’t want them just wandering off.  Why weren’t they called?’ John was seriously annoyed. The guards knew exactly what the protocols were and why they were there.  He glared at Jim, who was looking worried. ‘Get it done, now!’ he barked.

‘But, sir,’ Jim began, then stopped at the black look on Colonel Fitz-Sheppard’s face.  ‘Sir, they said they know Mr Tony!’ he managed to get out. ‘They said they were friends of Mr Tony!’

 

In the end, they all went down to the gate house.  John argued that the four scientists should stay in the house with Adam and the other internal guards to keep them safe.  Rodney argued back that they’d be safer all together and anyway, who was likely to kidnap seven people, three of whom were well trained professionals, plus all the other guards around the place as well as Brian, so John should ‘just suck it up buttercup and let’s get down there and back because it’s bloody freezing outside and my coffee’s getting cold and do you really want to sleep on the sofa or get laid ever again?’

Tony then laughed and commented that John seemed to spend most nights on the sofa, which made the others grin, John scowl and Jim and the other guards look very embarrassed to learn so much about the Colonel’s sex life.

John, however, thought Tony’s laugh had been somewhat forced and a quick glance at his cousin confirmed that he had a pretty good idea who the people at the gate house might be.

 

John led his enlarged family down the long drive, Tony acting as whipper-in.  He stepped forward to face the group standing beyond the gates, Jason and three other guards keeping a close eye on them, guns raised.

‘Who are you and what are you doing here?’

The grey haired, older man looked him up and down.  ‘I could ask you the same thing,’ he said in an American accent.

John said nothing and pushed his hands deeper into his coat pockets.  The older woman pushed herself forward and looked between him and the man he assumed was the infamous Gibbs.

‘I am Director Jennifer Shepard,’ she announced imperiously.

John pursed his lips and shrugged his shoulders.  ‘Is that supposed to mean something to me?’

She glared at him and out of the corner of his eye he saw Adam pull out his phone, probably to cancel the helicopter.

‘I want to see Agent DiNozzo.  I don’t need the rest of the circus here.  I’ll come inside and speak privately to him,’ she told John.

‘No.’

‘I beg your pardon?’

’No.’

She was obviously nonplussed by this and tried another tactic.  ‘Look, all I want is to speak in private with one of my agents.’  She peered at the group on the Lodge side of the gates, trying to find Tony, but John had kept him at the back for just that reason.

‘You’re trespassing on private land.’

She tried to give a smile she probably thought was winsome but which came out more as constipated.  ‘Then invite us in and we won’t be trespassing.’

‘You still haven’t told me what you’re all doing here.’

‘Jenny, this is ridiculous,’ the younger woman said, looking down her nose at John.  ‘This man is nobody and his little guards will do nothing. We are all getting cold. Let us simply take DiNozzo and leave.’  She pushed at one of the gates which opened slightly.

John stepped forward, annoyed at both the younger woman’s insolent tone and the fact that the gates hadn’t been secured, but before he could do anything, Brian came bounding through the group towards their uninvited guests and somehow, in the brief time between the main house and the front gates, he’d managed to get himself covered in mud and John watched in silent joy as he hurled himself through the open gate and jumped up at the glamorous redhead who just happened to be wearing a cream coloured coat.  She shrieked as Brian left two wonderfully large muddy paw-prints on the jacket, then bounced again and added a couple more for good measure. Rodney came bustling through from the back of the group, apologising profusely.

‘I am so sorry, he just pulled himself out of my grip and, oh dear, look at what he’s done to your coat.  How sad, what a shame.’ And if the words themselves weren’t insincere enough, he tried to ‘help’ by patting ineffectually at the jacket, thereby spreading the mud even further.

The entire Holly Lodge contingent grinned as Brian – aided and abetted by Rodney – continued to wreak havoc amongst the Americans, jumping up and rubbing against them as he tried to greet them, but the grins vanished as the young woman pulled a knife from inside her jacket and took a step towards the over enthusiastic dog.  Rodney moved to protect his dog and the click of safety catches was heard as number of weapons were pointed at her.

‘Put the knife down, now!’ John ordered in his best Commanding Officer voice.  ‘Along with any other weapons you might have brought into this country illegally.’

She tried to stare John down, but thankfully for everyone’s safety, the young man in the group moved to her side and whispered in her ear, pointing to the guns trained on her.  She nodded reluctantly and put the knife on the ground in front of her, glaring at John all the while.

‘Place any other weapons you might have on the ground as well.  That goes for all of you.’

No-one else in the NCIS group moved and John motioned Jason forward to search the woman.  She tried to stop him but the younger man gripped her shoulder and, with very bad grace, she submitted to the search.  Another knife and a small pistol were added to the knife and John stepped through the gate to kick them away for Jim to pick up, being careful to avoid the other guards’ lines of sight.

‘Just carrying those is enough to get you locked up for a number of years in England,’ John said to her.  ‘I would be very interested to know how you managed to smuggle them through customs. Jason, Mike, search the rest of them and see what other illegal items we can collect.’

‘You have no right to do this,’ the redhead told him angrily.  ‘My agents have my permission to carry weapons.’

John was about to reply when a helicopter was heard approaching.  He gave Adam a questioning look.

‘I thought we might be able to use their cargo,’ Adam said with a grin.  He made a hand motion and two of the guards who’d accompanied them down the drive ran towards the landing pad where lights were now shining.

To John’s surprise and relief, as he didn’t know quite what to do with the four NCIS people, Harry Pearce and Jack O’Neill climbed out and made their way over to him.

‘Hello, boys and girls,’ Jack called out cheerfully as he looked at the two distinct groups, one inside the Holly Lodge grounds and one standing on the other side of the open gates.  ‘Are we having fun?’

‘Who are you?’ the redhead demanded

‘The person who might save your butts,’ Jack told her, his playful demeanour now entirely serious.  ‘And this is Sir Harry Pearce, Director of Section D.’

John hid his surprise at Harry being introduced as such and decided Jack must know what he was doing.

‘These people are keeping my agent from me.  I want him back, now.’ The woman directed her comments to Jack, his familiar accent obviously persuading her of his support.

‘And you are…?’ Harry asked.

‘I am the director of NCIS.’

‘Okay, Madam Director, then you need to go through the proper channels and not turn up unannounced and unwelcome,’ Jack told her.  ‘What did you think you’d achieve here tonight?’

‘And more to the point, why did you come here, to this house?’ Harry added.

Shepard simply shrugged and Tony stepped into her field of vision for the first time.

‘Let me guess.  You had Abby or McGee track our cells.’

Her suddenly pink cheeks gave them the answer.

Harry kept his eyes on her as he pulled out his mobile phone and dialled a number.  Making no attempt at privacy, both groups heard every word he said.

‘Harry Pearce here.  I need a team from Special Branch out at Holly Lodge.  We have four people to take into custody under suspicion of terrorist offences.’

‘Terrorist Offences?’ Shepard gasped.  ‘How dare you!’

‘You turn up here, armed, demanding one of my officers?  Having ascertained his location through illegal means? Yes, terrorist offences.  Jason, Mike, get them into the gate house.’

‘One of your officers?  DiNozzo works for me!’

‘Not at the moment, he doesn’t,’ Jack drawled  ‘If you don’t like it, take it up with the Secretary of Defence.’

Jason and Mike moved forward to herd the quartet into the gate house but the younger woman crouched into a defensive position.

‘If you lay one finger on me I will kill you.’

The guns held by the other guards, which had been lowered, were now immediately raised and pointed at the group again but Shepard sighed and shook her head.

‘Leave it, Ziva.  Do as they say. We have no option, at the moment.’  She turned and looked at DiNozzo through narrowed eyes.  ‘But don’t think for a minute this is over.’

‘Are you threatening one of my officers?’ Harry asked in a deceptively calm tone.

‘Just who are you?’  Gibbs spoke for the first time in a few minutes.  ‘I’ve never heard of Section D.’

Harry gave him a grim smile and turned away, nodding slightly at John, who understood the silent order and herded his happy band – and dog – back up the drive.

 

Jack remained with the quartet and followed them into the gate house.

‘Who are you?’ Shepard asked him again.

‘Jack O’Neill, London Station Chief.’

‘CIA?’

‘Yup.’

‘Who are these people?  I’ve never heard of Section D either.’

‘You probably know them better as MI5.’

‘Tony is working for MI5?’ the younger woman asked, disdain dripping from every word.  ‘I do not believe you.’

‘Please yourself,’ Jack told her dismissively, disliking the woman before even knowing her name.  What little he’d seen of Tony had impressed him, so much so that he’d put out a few feelers for more information from old friends in the US, and one of them, an FBI senior agent in DC, had told him a few stories about DiNozzo that had impressed him even more.

‘Are they really sending this Special Branch, whatever it is, to take us into custody, or was that man joking?’ Shepard asked.

‘Harry Pearce doesn’t make jokes about terrorism.’

‘You know we’re not terrorists!’ she said, angrily.  ‘He has no right to do this. I shall certainly be complaining to the Secretary of Defence at the first opportunity.  You don’t really want an international incident on your hands, do you?’

Jack studied her, wondering what had made her so stupid.  ‘What have you come here for, really?’

‘I told you.  I want my agent back.’

‘So you flew over three thousand miles and drove to a house you found illegally, and brought three other people with you, one of them armed to the teeth?  Just to get your agent back? I don’t think so, lady. There’s much more to this than that. And until I find out what that is you’ll stay in the custody of Special Branch.’  He heard a vehicle approach and looked through the window to see a police van arrive.

‘Your ride’s here.’

 

———

 

Chapter Fourteen

 

Harry suspected it wouldn’t be long before news of the four NCIS visitors, as well as their present accommodation in a police cell, reached the ears of Oliver Mace, provoking a further visit to the Grid.  The source of his information would be very revealing.

With this in mind, soon after he left Holly Lodge Harry got to work to find out just how the NCIS agents had arrived in Britain.  Having discovered this he made a call to an old friend, the US Secretary of Defence and expressed his displeasure at not being informed of their visit as well as their use of NCIS resources to track down an MI5 secure location.  SecDef was extremely apologetic and assured Harry he would make a full investigation into all of Shepard’s activities.

In return Harry explained that he and the CIA London Chief were making enquiries into various issues – of which General Hammond was well aware – and he would be grateful if the SecDef would keep a lid on the NCIS activities for the time being.

‘I will, Harry, but only if you promise to have dinner with me one night and tell me just what’s been going on.  I’ll be in the UK next month.’

‘I’ll look forward to it, Peter.  You’ll be paying, I assume?’

‘I paid last time, you old bastard!’

 

It was no surprise then, to receive a visit from Mace early the following morning.  Harry noted, with a perverse pleasure, the man was almost incoherent with rage.

‘How dare you!  How dare you have the director of a US federal agency locked up!’

Harry sat back in his chair, threw his pen onto his desk and surveyed the angry man, although…  Yes.  Certainly angry, but is that a touch of glee I see in there too?  Does he think he now has us at a disadvantage?

‘You mean the woman who determined the location of an MI5 secure site through an illegal process, who arrived in the country with no authorisation via a US Naval Activities base, and who brought with her not only two NCIS agents, but also an agent of a foreign power – armed, I might add – travelling under false documents.  Is that who you mean?’

Mace spluttered and glared at Harry.  ‘I’ve ordered them all to be released and I’m ordering you to co-operate with them in any possible way.’

‘And have you discussed this with the Home Secretary?’ Harry asked quietly.  Far too quietly, if Mace had bothered to pay any attention.

‘He’s far too busy to be involved in your mess,’ Mace replied dismissively.

‘And yet, here he is,’ said a new voice from behind Mace who swung round in shock.

‘Home Secretary!’

Robert Kilbride, Home Secretary, came fully into Harry’s office and took a seat.

‘Do carry on, Oliver.  You were ordering Harry to cooperate with four people who entered the country under false pretences, I believe.’

‘Well… I… that is…’

‘I’d be very interested in hearing your reasoning,’ Kilbride continued mercilessly.

‘I… one of them is the Director of NCIS.  Pearce can’t simply lock her up.’

‘Not even when she arrives covertly with a Mossad agent?’

‘Mossad?  No, I think you’re mistaken, Home Secretary.  She has three of her own agents with her. She never travels without her own security.’

‘Ziva David, daughter of Eli David, head of Mossad, although she entered our country using an NCIS identity card, naming her an NCIS Agent with no mention of either her status as a Mossad liaison officer, or her nationality.  Still think I’m mistaken, Oliver?’

‘I…’  Mace paled and fell silent.

Harry decided to take a turn, although he thoroughly enjoyed seeing Mace lost for words.  ‘She does have two of her own agents with her, although one is a Probationary agent with a degree in Forensic Computing, so I’m not sure just how useful he would be in an emergency.’  He turned from Mace and spoke directly to Kilbride. ‘I’ve spoken to the US Secretary of Defence and he wasn’t aware they were in the UK and is obviously perturbed since it leaves NCIS with neither its director nor its senior agent.  He’s also unhappy that she wishes to take Agent DiNozzo from us. ‘SecDef’ is very keen for him to continue his secondment to MI5 and has even suggested a liaison post or a possible exchange programme be arranged. He said he will discuss it with you when he comes to the security conference next month.’

‘I look forward to it.’  Kilbride inclined his head.  ‘What does he want us to do with the director and her… security?’

‘It is rather a coincidence that she turns up right at the time when we have some concerns of our own.  He—’

‘What concerns?’ Mace interrupted.  ‘I haven’t been informed of any concerns.’

Kilbride gave him a cold stare.  ‘The last time I looked Harry ran Section D and didn’t answer to you, but to me.  Your role is of advisor to the Cabinet and doesn’t require that you be briefed on current Intelligence operations.  If you’re struggling to understand just what your job is, Mace, perhaps it would be best if I look for another JIC Chairman.’

Harry almost cheered and for a moment thought about hugging HomSec – It does have quite a ring to it – but settled for a polite smile as Mace glared at both him and Kilbride.

‘No, sir.  That won’t be necessary.  I shall take my leave. Good day.’

They watched him leave, then Kilbride turned to Harry.

‘I always feel as though I need to wash my hands after dealing with him.’  He gave a theatrical shiver. ‘What do you want to do about the Americans?’

‘I suggest we bring the three NCIS people here to talk; however, I’m reluctant to allow Eli David’s daughter on MI5 property or any government property if it comes to it.  She was armed when they arrived at Holly Lodge last night and didn’t hesitate to attack one of the guards.’

‘And are you happy you have that situation under control?’

Harry thought for a moment.  ‘Holly Lodge, yes. That’s under control.  The rest of it? I’m not sure about under control, but we’re getting there.  Some more information has turned up, but we have a couple of pieces of the puzzle still missing.  There’s some serious work to do with the security of the DSTL and I’m loath to send the three senior scientists back before it’s done and without getting to the bottom of the leaks.  You seeing off Mace has cleared the board a tad and we’re working pretty well with the CIA.’

‘Yes, I’ve met Jack O’Neill.  He’s…original.’

‘And being original makes him unpredictable.  I’m enjoying working with him and we’re building up a good rapport with him and his team.’  Harry paused again. ‘We’ll let the David girl go but only if Shepard promises to keep her on a tight rein.  If we catch her where she shouldn’t be or doing something questionable, she’ll be on the next plane back to Israel.’

‘Not back to the US?’

‘I suspect she’ll be leaving her ‘liaison’ position very shortly.  Peter West is not happy with that situation at all, nor is he happy with Shepard and her priorities.’

Kilbride nodded and stood.  ‘Thank you for briefing me on the DSTL situation and this mess with NCIS.  Keep me in the loop, Harry.’

As the HomSec left, Harry wondered if the recording equipment in his office had been on.  He knew of several people who would enjoy watching and listening to Oliver Mace being put in his place.  Perhaps I could send it out instead of a Christmas card this year?

 

————

 

The recording system had been working, Harry was pleased to learn.

‘I set it so any conversations in your office are recorded by default,’ Colin told him.  ‘I’m sure I sent you a memo about it. Unless you tell me otherwise it automatically deletes each day at midnight.   It’s just easier to delete what you don’t want than remember to switch it on when you do want to record a conversation.  I’ll isolate the time while Mace was here and let you have it.’

‘As long as we can all listen to it,’ John added, and the others nodded eagerly.  The chance to hear Mace routed was not to be missed by anyone, not even Tony who’d only met the man a few days previously.

‘I’ll let you all have copies.’  Colin rolled his eyes.

‘But I’ll be the one to share it outside of the Grid,’ Harry ordered.  ‘Do not steal my thunder!’

Malcolm moved to the screen, ready to begin the briefing proper, and Harry nodded to him.

‘We had a good look at the camera footage around Queen’s Square and identified a few people who were there for long periods of time and weren’t doing anything other than watch Mason’s Bank.  Eight people appeared to switch out with each other and we’re confident they were the ones watching Weir. At least some of the ones watching her.’

‘Some of them?’ John asked in surprise.

Colin and Malcolm exchanged looks.

‘We think there were two distinct groups watching her, apart from ourselves the other day,’ Colin explained.  ‘One is the SVR, a mixture of Russians and British, and the other group, a smaller group, are American. Almost certainly DIA.’

‘Who on earth are DIA?’ John demanded.

‘Defence Intelligence Agency,’ Tony told him.  ‘They deal with military intelligence and oversaw the two Gulf Wars and the Iranian nuclear power thing for example.’

‘Why would they be interested in Weir?’ John demanded.  ‘And just how many intelligence agencies does the US need?  Don’t you get confused with who’s who?’

Tony laughed.  ‘A little. There’s a huge amount of dislike and rivalry as well and they’ll all do anything to avoid working with one another.  NCIS is just as bad. We hate the Feebs and they hate us. The only thing everyone agrees on is that we all hate the CIA.’

‘Feebs?’ asked Adam.

‘FBI.’

‘Why do you think they’re DIA and, as John said, why would they be interested in watching Weir?’ Harry asked Malcolm, bringing the meeting to order.

‘We matched a couple of faces to Embassy personnel and made a call to Jack O’Neill.  He, or rather Sam Carter, suggested they might be DIA. As for why? It’s only supposition, but the only reason she’d appear on their radar is if she involved in actual military espionage; US military installations or weapons capabilities perhaps, which would fit in with the reasons behind Rodney’s kidnapping.’

‘And you’re sure they were watching her and not somebody else we don’t know about, are you?’

‘We’ve checked several days footage and can see them following her as she moves around the city.  We also think they realise the SVR are watching her, but as far as we can tell the Russians haven’t noticed them, but then the Russian group is made up of a few Russians, mostly from their Embassy, and a few Brits who don’t have a clue about surveillance work.  Mostly muscle for hire, the sort that kidnapped Rodney and tried to kidnap the Zelenkas. The DIA people are professionals.’

Harry nodded, and thought for a moment.  ‘What about the surveillance we had on Weir after she was released?’

Malcolm clicked a few screens forward and showed photos of Weir taken in London.  ‘We can’t really work her out. She’s either particularly stupid, or so clever that we have no idea what she’s really doing.  After she was released from here, she went straight to the pub where Kolya was staying. She went inside but came out after a few minutes looking really angry.  She then went back to her apartment and hasn’t left there since then apart from a trip to the corner shop for some bread and milk. She’s not met with anyone, not that we’ve seen, and she’s only received one phone call, and that was from Landry checking she was okay.’

‘You’ve a tap on her phone?’ Adam asked.

‘On her landline and her mobile, so unless she has a second mobile we don’t know about, she’s not had any visitors or made or received any calls.  It’s pretty much a dead end for us.’

‘So what’s our next move?’ John asked.  ‘We sit and wait to see who she contacts or who contacts her?’

‘It’s all we can do at the moment,’ Malcolm told him.  ‘The DIA and SVR still have people outside the bank but they’re both down to just one man at a time.  The Russians also have people watching her flat but there’s no sign of the DIA there.’

‘Why?’  John asked suddenly.  ‘Why are the Russians watching her?  We were pretty certain she was working for Kolya and she’s tried to contact him but can’t because he’s in one of our cells.  She obviously didn’t realise we had him, or probably anyone else down there. The Russians must be aware we’re holding Kolya and his rent-a-kidnap-crew.  Why are they watching her?’

‘And how did Mace know we had her?’ Adam put in.  ‘We assumed his information came from Landry, he pretty much admitted that, but how did Landry know?  Would the DIA tell him?’

‘It’s possible,’ Tony said slowly, thinking about who knew what.  ‘But if we assume they’re watching her because they suspect she’s up to something, why would they tell Landry, who they must know is the one passing information to her?’

‘So if not the DIA…’ John began.

‘The Russians told Landry,’ Adam finished.  ‘Which means he’s in direct contact with them.  So why would he pass stuff onto Weir to be passed on again?’

‘We’re missing something,’ Harry frowned.  ‘Malcolm, is the money trail clear yet?’

‘Not yet.  Ruth’s on the case and she hopes she’ll have something later today.’

‘I hope so,’ Harry said, then looked down at his notepad.  ‘Right. Our visitors to Holly Lodge last night. Tony, what do you want to do?’

Tony looked surprised to be asked.  Surprised, but pleasantly so. ‘I think it would cause the least problems if I met with them and found out just what they want.’

‘They want you to go back with them and that Shepard woman wants you to go undercover for her,’ John said bluntly.

‘I spoke with the SecDef earlier today – Secretary of Defence, Adam,’ Harry clarified, at the puzzled look on his officer’s face.  ‘He’s not at all happy with your director, Tony, not for dragging her people all the way over here, nor leaving the agency without two of its most senior people and not least for this liaison post she’s apparently set up for her friend, the daughter of the head of Mossad.  I hope you don’t mind, but I also told him about the unsanctioned undercover op. He’s not at all pleased with that. He is, however, very pleased with your secondment position and is content to let you stay as long as you wish, or until I get tired of you. ’

Tony looked very relieved while John grinned happily.

‘Told you it’d be fine,’ he said, punching his cousin lightly on the arm.

‘Now who’s abusing me?’ Tony grinned, punching his cousin back.

‘Doesn’t count.  You’re my baby cousin!’

‘By a month!’

’Still younger than me!’

‘Boys!’  Harry tried to glare at them both, but failed miserably.  ‘As you know, Tony, your erstwhile colleagues are being released from their prison cells and—’

‘I just love the idea of them being locked up,’ Tony said, with a huge beam, then ducked his head.  ‘Sorry, Harry, I interrupted you.’

‘Yes, you did.  As I was saying.  They are being released but have been told not to return to Holly Lodge under any circumstances.  I’ve ordered them to come here at 1pm for a brief meeting, but the David girl has been told to remain in her hotel until they go back to the US.’

‘She won’t obey you,’ Tony told him.  ‘She thinks she’s above things like orders or instructions.’

‘So I gather.  But it has been impressed on her that if she sets one foot outside her hotel she’ll be deported to Israel as soon as possible.  The others have been informed of this and know they are responsible for making sure she obeys.’

‘What did Donald make of this?’ Adam asked John and Tony.

‘He wasn’t impressed at all,’ John said.  ‘I’ve never heard him say anything negative about anyone before, although I’ve only met him a few times before this last couple of weeks.  I get the impression, though, he’d rather say nothing than say anything bad about someone.’

Tony nodded.  ‘That’s Ducky all over, although he isn’t averse to taking someone on one side and telling them off privately.  He’s not looking forward to going back to NCIS at all.’

‘Really?’  Adam was surprised.  ‘I got the impression he loved his job.’

‘Oh, he does.  But he’s tired of the politics that have appeared since Jenny Shepard took over as Director.  And annoyed she refused to back me up properly while Gibbs was on his long vacation. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if he decides not to go back.  He’s well over sixty now and may just think it’s more trouble than it’s worth.’

Harry tapped the table to get everyone’s attention.  ‘Are we any further on discovering the mole within the DSTL, twins?’

‘Again, we’re waiting for the money trail,’ Colin admitted.  ‘Ruth’s delving through it but it’s exceedingly complicated and whoever is responsible has covered their tracks pretty well.  Not well enough to fool Ruth, mind you, but it is taking her some time.’

‘Good.  Thank you.’  Harry glanced at his notes again.  ‘Adam, go and visit Jack and see what he’s got for us.  Apparently some information came in overnight. John, Tony, look over the risk assessment Ruth’s completed for the DSTL and give me your recommendations.  Twins, back to your computers and do whatever it is you do.’ they all smiled. Harry dealt perfectly well with technology but liked to give the impression he was a bit of a Luddite.  ‘The NCIS people will be here at 1 so be ready, John and Tony. We’ll meet them in the ground floor conference room. I’m not having them on the Grid. Adam, I’d like you here if you can manage it.  Right, people. Let’s get on with it!’

 

————

 

It was no surprise to anyone when Harry received a phone call just before 1pm to say David had turned up at Thames House with the NCIS trio.  He ordered security to hold them in a ground floor conference room with an armed guard, then put in a call to the Home Secretary explaining what had happened.

‘Is she completely stupid?’ Kilbride asked.

‘Which one of them?’ Harry asked in reply.  ‘We explained what would happen if David came here.  This is just a courtesy call to tell you we’re putting her on plane for Tel Aviv as soon as possible.’

‘It’s not going to create problems for us with the Israelis is it?’

‘Because Eli David’s daughter was effectively smuggled into the country under false documents?  Pretty difficult to determine what they’d complain about. I’m certain if we did the same in Israel, they’d just shoot whoever it was.’

‘Have you informed the Secs def… deft… Secretary of Defence?’

‘SecDef.  Not yet. It’s my next call.  At least this time he’s likely to be awake and not grumble at me!’

Harry gathered his officers and Malcolm promised to record the meeting.  They found Jack O’Neill and his team, along with a grinning Adam, waiting for them on the ground floor.

‘I wasn’t about to miss out on what promises to be an entertaining afternoon,’ Jack told them happily.  ‘You can’t buy entertainment like this. I brought popcorn.’ He waved a carrier bag full of smaller bags and passed it round, all the while grinning widely.

Harry just shook his head and hoped this was all being recorded.  He was certain the SecDef and HomSec would appreciate copies. The group, now up to seven, made their way into the conference room where the previous night’s visitors were being held under armed guard.

‘So, what part of ‘don’t bring the David girl’ did you have trouble with?’ Jack asked politely, and made himself comfortable while Shepard opened and closed her mouth like a fish.

‘You have no right to speak this way,’ David spat.

Jack opened his bag of popcorn, threw a piece into the air and caught it in his mouth.

‘Show-off!’ muttered Daniel Jackson sitting beside him and opening his own bag.

Harry watched with interest as Shepard went red, then white with anger.

‘You have no right to speak this way,’ she hissed at Jack, who looked around in surprise.

‘Is there an echo in here?  Danny, is there an echo?’

John, Tony and Adam exchanged grins as they took seats further down the table from Harry and Jack, and  Sam Carter joined them. She whispered something which made them laugh and Harry, much as he was enjoying Jack’s floor show, decided to take control before Shepard had an aneurysm.

‘You were instructed that David should remain at your hotel.’  It wasn’t a question. Harry knew she’d been informed. ‘Why is she here?’

‘You had no right to give such an instruction,’ Shepard told him, voice shaking with rage.  ‘Ziva is one of my agents.’

‘No, she’s not.’  Jack threw another piece of popcorn into the air.  ‘She’s an agent of Mossad and a liaison officer for you.  Although, I have no idea why NCIS should need a Mossad liaison officer.’

As Shepard opened her mouth to reply, he spoke again.  ‘And neither does Peter West.’

Shepard’s mouth closed.

‘Who is this Peter West and what does he have to do with this matter?’ David asked angrily.  ‘It is Jenny’s decision that I be a liaison officer and not the business of anyone else.’

Jack caught another piece of popcorn.  ‘Tell her who Peter West is,’ he ordered with a malicious grin.

‘He’s the Secretary of Defence,’ she told David, very unwillingly.

‘And what does that matter?  You answer to the Navy’s Secretary.’

‘Who in turn answers to the Secretary of Defence,’ Harry explained, directing a small smile at Jack who grinned back and ate some more popcorn.

‘What does he mean, Jenny?’

‘Y’know?  I was told you spoke and understood English,’ Jack said conversationally.  ‘But now, I’m beginning to wonder. You didn’t understand ‘stay the fuck away’ and now you don’t understand ‘he’s my boss’.’  He turned to the scowling Shepard. ‘Tell me again why you wanted her?’ When Shepard turned her head away, he slapped his hand on the table, making everyone jump.  ‘It wasn’t a suggestion, Shepard. Why did you employ her?’

Harry hoped the others, especially Tony, were enjoying the performance as much as he was.  Being head of Section D was frequently a thankless, dirty job so you had to get your kicks when you could.  And today is the day that just keeps giving!

‘I don’t answer to you!’

‘Yes, you do.’  Sam leaned forward.  ‘Secretary West instructed the CIA to liaise with MI5 to sort out your mess.  If you want to speak to him, I’m sure he’d be happy to take your call.’ She sat back with a smirk.

It was clear Shepard didn’t want to do that, but equally clear that if she refused to answer, she was as good as admitting it was done as a personal favour to either the head of Mossad or his only daughter.  Harry could almost see her conflictions playing out in her mind as well as the moment she made up her mind.

‘Ziva was the controller of her half-brother, Ari Haswari, when he killed an NCIS agent, and threatened another.’  She glanced in his direction. ‘She was forced to kill him to protect Agent Gibbs. She feared to return to Israel and came to me as we were old friends.  I offered her a job.’

There were sharp intakes of breath from Tony and the other young NCIS agent, but surprisingly, not from Gibbs himself.  Harry, however, was watching David, and she was definitely smirking. He noticed Jack and Sam were watching her as well.

‘So you did her a favour,’ Harry clarified.  Shepard wasn’t expecting this question.

‘I…yes.  Yes, I did.’

‘Because you thought she might be in danger if this became known to Eli David?’

Shepard nodded uneasily.  It was clear she had no idea where this was going and had assumed Harry’s questions would take a different route.

‘Well, yes.  And because she’d saved Agent Gibbs’ life.’

‘So it wasn’t a favour but a reward?’

‘I… no… yes… what do you want me to say!’

‘We want you to tell us the truth,’ Jack said implacably

‘That is the truth!’

‘Is it?  Or is it your version of the truth?’

‘It’s the truth!’

‘So a reward and a favour, huh?’

Shepard folded her arms and looked away from him, lips pressed together, but Harry had little sympathy for her.  Malfeasance in public office was unlawful, even for a life-saving act, and rightly so. But there was something else here.  He had a strong suspicion this was only part of the truth and he was fairly certain the others on his side the table agreed with him.

‘You’re claiming that you feared David would be in danger if she returned to Israel, so you offered her a job.’  Harry wanted to make sure he was understanding this properly.

Shepard nodded, eyes darting between Jack and himself.

Jack munched on popcorn for a while, then turned to David, asking ‘Is this true?’ in such a mild tone that Harry immediately suspected Jack knew far more than he was letting on, so he smiled to himself and opened his own bag of popcorn.

David took her time in answering and when she did, it was with a mildly insolent tone.

‘Of course.’

‘So this Hairy Haswanobi was your brother?’

Daniel choked and Jack made a big fuss about slapping him on his back, which gave their side of the table time to straighten their faces.

‘Ari Haswari!’

‘Hairy—’ Jack began.

‘Ari!’ David almost shouted.

‘Ari, Hairy, what’s the difference?’

David glared at him.

‘So, that guy.  He was your brother?’

‘My half brother, yes.’

‘Same dad, same mum?’

‘We shared a father.’

‘Right, right.  Head of Mossad.’

‘Yes!’  David was getting angrier.

‘So Hairy’s mother—’

‘Ari!  Are you so stupid you cannot correctly pronounce his name!’

There was an immediate cessation of sound, and as David looked around, startled, it was almost possible to see the young NCIS officer dissociate himself from her.  Shepard put her hand on David’s arm, but she shook it off.

‘Why are you asking these ridiculous questions!’  She turned to Shepard. ‘This man is a fool and yet you permit him to question me.  Me!’

‘Ziva,’ Shepard said quietly.  ‘Ziva. Calm down. This is just a—’

‘He is a fool and I will answer no more questions.  Jenny, come, we must leave. She stood, expecting her colleagues to follow her.

‘Sit down, Ms David!’  There was no sign of the clown in Jack now and David frowned, as though thrown by this apparent change of tack which really didn’t speak awfully well of the vaunted Mossad training, Harry decided, enjoying his popcorn.

‘You were instructed to remain in your hotel.  Why didn’t you?’

David retook her seat, looking around in confusion.

Really not impressed with Mossad training.

‘It was a ridiculous instruction,’ she shrugged.

‘Right.  You disobey any orders you don’t like, don’t you?  Orders don’t apply to you.’

Her lip curled as she stared at him.

‘Are you in the habit of disobeying your father?’

‘No!’

‘And yet you do.’

‘No!  I do not!’

‘The evidence says you do.’

‘I always obey my father!  It is the way of my people!’

‘So you always obey him, huh?’

‘Of course!’

She walked directly into it.  Shepard opened her mouth but before she could speak, Jack closed the trap.

‘You claim you disobeyed him by shooting Ari.  Were you not disobeying him, but in fact following his orders?’

Harry watched Gibbs sink back into his seat, close his eyes and sigh.  David was looking around, clearly hoping someone to help her. He decided it was his turn to ask a few questions.

‘So your father ordered you to kill your brother.  Why?’

If looks could kill, the entire CIA and MI5 contingent would be stone dead, Harry decided.

‘Why was it so important for you to be employed by NCIS?’

Still no reply, but Shepard was looking even more uncomfortable than before.  Harry turned his attention to her.

‘Why did you smuggle her into the UK?’

‘I didn’t smuggle her into the UK!’

‘No?  What do you call using a false identity to get a foreign agent into a county to prevent questions being asked?’

‘It wasn’t to prevent questions being asked!’

‘So why was it?’

Silence.

‘Let’s try something else.  Why did you permit David to accompany you today when you were explicitly told she should stay behind?’

Silence.

‘And that if she didn’t, you would all be held responsible and she would be deported.’

Shepard began to look a little uneasy while the young agent looked downright scared.  Harry glanced down at his notes, taking a piece of popcorn absently.

‘Agent McGee.’

The young agent jumped.  ‘Um…yes, sir?’

‘You were aware that if David left your hotel, you would all be accountable?’

‘I…um…I…I was…um… I was aware, sir.  Yes, sir.’

‘How long have you worked for NCIS?’

‘I… I’m sorry, sir?’

‘How long have you worked for NCIS?  It’s not a difficult question.’

‘No, sir.  I…um…’

‘Agent McGee!’

‘Almost three years, sir.’

‘Do you like it?’

A panicked McGee glanced around him, looking for help.

‘I…yes, sir.  Yes, I like it.’

‘And yet you’ve risked your career by allowing David to accompany you here today.’  Harry honestly thought the young man would burst into tears. He turned his attention back to David.

‘You’ve put your team members’ careers at risk by disobeying orders and you were told you would be deported if you came here, so why come?  What was so important that you had to come here today?’

‘You cannot deport me!’

‘Yes, we can and yes we will.  A police van is waiting outside to take you to the airport where you will be put on a plane for Tel Aviv.  Your Embassy has been notified and one of their staff will accompany you.’

‘You cannot do this!’

‘Yeah, he really can,’ Jack drawled as Harry stood, opened the door and motioned to someone outside.

Two uniformed officers entered and handcuffed David who began fighting and screaming, but she was quickly secured as this time the police had been prepared.  Shepard leapt to her feet and began shouting but quickly found herself handcuffed too. Gibbs and McGee stayed in their seats though McGee was shaking with fright while Gibbs simply looked furious though Harry wasn’t quite sure just who he was furious with.  The two women were taken out, both still screaming, and the door closed behind them.

‘What…what will happen to them?’ asked McGee, still looking terrified.

‘David will be sent back to Tel Aviv under armed guard and Shepard will be held in a cell while we decide what will happen with you all,’ said Harry.  ‘Right now, we want to know just why you all came to the UK. And any fairy tale about coming for DiNozzo can be forgotten straight away,’ he added. ‘We want the real reason.’

 

———

 

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Daisy May

About Daisy May

I'm a fifty something woman who enjoys writing fanfic. I've been writing all my life but only recently began to share my fanfic. It's a bit frightening to be honest, like walking down the street naked - not that I've ever done that except in nightmares!

3 Comments

  1. Its an insane amount of arrogance, thinking that story would hold up — like a team would go to another country to retrieve someone who took leave? Let alone someone seconded to another agency. Its so much fun having other countries and the ‘boss’s boss’ aware and calling them on everything. 🙂

  2. This, this amazing work is made of ALL the WIN!! You have given so many gifts and I am so unworthy. You are the righteous hand of fate. Thank you thank you thank you.

  3. This is great reading! Thank you, so much.

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