- Death - Minor Character
- Violence - Canon-Level
- Canon Divergence
10 July 2009
“Is this how you always travel?” James asked as he lounged in one of the armchairs in the small, private plane.
Tony snorted. “No. I try not to be stupidly frivolous with my money, but it’s easier to stay off of Mossad’s radar if I’m not taking commercial transportation.” He’d had an MI5 operative shadowing him for his last couple of days in London, but then he’d found James lounging in his hotel living room this morning, having broken in and claiming he’d be taking over escort duty to The Hague.
“You should have let Q set you up with a cover identity. We could have slipped into the Netherlands quietly.”
“I’m not playing spies with you.”
James threw back his head and laughed. As it was, the flight had been chartered by Q under one of James’ cover identities.
“So, did you blow up Q’s lab or something?” Tony found the byplay between the two to be vastly diverting.
“I’m wondering what trouble you got into that landed you with babysitting duty.”
James shook his head, smiling. “Avoiding trouble. Q says I’m a nightmare when I’m bored, and I’m at loose end at the moment. The most exciting thing has been chasing down those rogue Mossad operatives. With your wretched luck, there might be more entertainment to be had.”
“I’m not that bad.”
“You forget I’ve read your file.”
Tony shot him a baleful look.
James just laughed again.
* * *
“Anthony, how good to see you again.” Dorn extended his hand, and Tony took it readily.
“Hello, Michel. How have you been?” Tony had met Michel Dorn, a prosecutor for the ICC, a few years back when Tony’d been sent to testify in a cross-jurisdictional, international case. He’d covered NCIS’ small piece in that case for the court because literally no one wanted Gibbs testifying at the ICC. There wasn’t enough coffee in all of Europe to act as a panacea for that sort of pain.
“It’s been a difficult year.” His smile was a bit strained as he shifted his attention to James. “And I see you’ve brought Mr. Bond with you.”
James just lifted one eyebrow.
“There’s very little I don’t know, young man, and that includes MI6’s double-0 program.”
Tony bit back a smile.
Dorn waved them both into his office. “Come in.” Other than the desk, there was a sofa and two armchairs inside the elegant office. Dorn took one of the chairs, while James immediately sprawled on the sofa.
Tony took the other chair. “Just us?” He knew there was a whole team—he’d done research and everything.
“I thought we could chat for a few minutes before I take you down to meet Major Daniel and whichever of his team are in the office today; I know several are out in the field, but I confess I don’t keep up with their comings and goings.” He gave a negligent wave. Dorn then gave Tony an assessing look. “And how are you doing?”
Tony’s brows shot up. While he’d gotten along well with Dorn during the testimony preparation, they weren’t exactly close. “I’m doing well. It’s been…a little chaotic.”
Dorn’s look was decidedly unimpressed. “Anthony, I’m fully aware that there are rogue Mossad operatives looking for you. Hence your MI6 shadow. I also know that MI6 and MI5 have only succeeded in capturing approximately half of the assassins sent after you.” He held up his hand before Tony could reply. “Eli David and several others arrived in Amsterdam this morning.”
Tony’s eyebrows shot up. “MI6 handled chartering my flight, and yet Eli already knew where I was going to be. So, it logically follows that Eli has my itinerary. No one knows my schedule while I’m here, and I know you keep your appointments on paper still.” He considered for a second. “Email?”
“That’s the supposition, yes. Mr. Berger from my team and Q from MI6 have been looking into where the breach might have occurred. Mr. Berger deduced it wasn’t a breach of your email service, noting that you had the best option possible for private encrypted email.”
Tony couldn’t help but chuckle. “Isn’t everyone a little outside their mandate here?”
“Former Kidon assassins gone rogue in Europe?” Dorn’s tone was desert dry. “I don’t think we’re overstepping, no.”
“Not overstepping, Michel. More…” Tony trailed off and reconsidered what he’d been about to say. He shook his head. “I appreciate the help. I assume Mr. Berger thinks it’s a packet sniffer?”
“Likely, yes. Q made contact about an hour ago with Allen Wright of the Department of Defense Inspector General’s office. They’ve dispatched agents to your home to determine how your privacy was breached. I offered to brief you in person rather than have you land to a confusing stream of emails and text messages, which aren’t operationally secure regardless of any other factors. Not to mention the need to disclose the search of your residence.”
“So, Eli might make a move here. That’s just great.”
“A special brigade of the KMar have been briefed on the matter, and they will coordinate with my team. And Mr. Bond, of course,” he dipped his head to James, “to see if we can’t bring this to a resolution.”
“How ‘briefed’? Because there’s not much about the situation that even you should know.”
Dorn smiled enigmatically. “I have my sources, Anthony, and there was too much international intrigue for the details to be kept truly confidential. Having those details helps us in terms of securing support for your protection and to seek out these rogue operatives. No representative of law enforcement is going to feel anything but outraged at a talented young man being sacrificed to a foreign government for doing his duty.”
Tony rubbed his hand over his face. “This pretty princess routine is getting really old.”
Dorn’s smile never wavered as he got to his feet. “Come. I’ll introduce you to my team. Mr. Bond, since you’re acting as security for Anthony, I’ve set up a call to coordinate efforts with the KMar. I’ll take you to a conference room.”
* * *
Major Louis Daniel seemed rather severe and humorless to Tony as Dorn introduced them, but Tony knew facial expressions were barely any kind of first impression. The guy could be grumpy or just have epic resting bitch face. He didn’t telegraph much, that was for sure.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Agent DiNozzo.” Daniel was soft spoken, grip firm but not bruising. “I was led to believe it is still agent?”
“For now, yes.” Tony noted two other people moving closer.
Major Daniel gestured to them. “This is Carl Hickman, formerly of the New York Police Department.”
Tony had done some checking on the team members when he’d accepted the interview, so he knew Hickman had a severely injured right hand. He nodded instead of offering to shake. “It’s a pleasure.”
Daniel turned to the younger man. “And this is Kommissar Sebastian Berger of Germany. The rest of the team are out at the moment.”
Berger seemed painfully young to Tony even though he didn’t think the age difference was that great. “So, you’re like Hickman?” Berger asked, sounding curious.
Tony’s brows shot up. “In what way?”
“The way you read people and clues…?” Berger proceeded to describe Hickman’s deductive prowess.
“No, I’m not a deductive thinker in that way, though I can follow a logical train of thought as well as anyone.”
Michel snorted but turned away to cover it with a cough.
Tony considered for a second. “My process is more…abstract.”
“So you’re the yin to his yang?” Berger looked genuinely interested.
Tony blinked then laughed. “I didn’t get the impression that the job offer was about a complimentary skill set, but sure. Deduction and intuition—they both have their place.”
Hickman looked skeptical. “Intuition,” he repeated, voice dry.
Major Daniel stepped in. Literally, right between Tony and Hickman like they were about to brawl over whose playdough was a prettier color. “Let me show you our offices and explain how we work.”
Tony was amused by the whole thing because their function wasn’t rocket science, but he let Daniel lead him around, explaining the Special Crime Unit. While Tony understood the need for what they did, he wondered if the whole thing didn’t exceed the ICC’s mandate. But he kept the thought to himself because that wasn’t his issue to solve, and he did find the work to be alluring.
He paused in front of a large pin board with pictures tacked up along with basic case information. There were nearly twenty photos of young women in their late teens to late twenties. No clear racial or background similarities beyond standard statistical groupings.
He was only vaguely aware that people has stopped speaking as he trailed his fingers over the notecards with date of birth, date missing, last known location. All women missing across Europe. Some of them had been tourists from the United States.
“It’s an ongoing case. We think. But we haven’t found a solid connection between all of these,” Major Daniel explained.
“What do the blue notecards denote?”
“We have enough information to tie together the cases in blue. Abductions witnessed by a bystander or via camera. The others are best guess.” The blue were less than a third of the cases on the board.
A couple of the cases with white cards didn’t sit right with him. Like they weren’t part of the right set.
“What do you see, Anthony?” Dorn prompted.
Tony pulled down the four cases that didn’t feel right. “I don’t think those are part of it. I just need to see it without that in the dataset.”
“How do you figure?” Hickman asked, tone stern but not obnoxious.
“I don’t know yet.” He cocked his head to the side, trying to figure out what he was seeing.
“You don’t know,” Hickman repeated. “How are we supposed to work with that?”
“I’m not asking you to,” Tony replied absently. He realized one of the four did belong on the board and tacked her picture back up. In the US, a blonde-haired woman with blue eyes and girl-next-door looks wouldn’t mean much. And from a purely aesthetics standpoint, she didn’t fit the pattern, but she was from the South, born and raised, and living in Savannah, Georgia before she went on holiday in France.
“Why’d you put that one back?” Berger prompted.
“Because I was looking at the board like I was in the US, but I’m clearly not. And she does fit it here.”
“Anthony?” Dorn stepped into his line of sight, and Tony blinked a few times.
“Just say it,” Hickman interrupted. “No matter how odd it sounds.”
“It’s a menu.”
“Human trafficking,” Hickman inferred, stepping closer, standing shoulder to shoulder with Tony, looking closely at the pictures.
“I think so. They’re all exotic in some way. Unusual combinations of eye, hair, and skin color. Except for her.” He tapped the picture of the Southern girl. “There’s nothing exotic about her.”
“Back home,” Hickman agreed. “But in Europe, her accent would be very unusual. There aren’t many Southerners running around, and if someone had an order…”
“Yeah. I think it might be like a broker who is filling exactly that…special orders. They’d have to be based in Europe and looking to source that accent closer to their base of operations.” He shuddered. “Ugh.” He blew out a breath, shaking off the creepy feeling in his brain. “While I understand why you focused on women, I sincerely doubt this…broker is limiting himself. You need to find the men he’s taken. Maybe there will be a new clue amongst those cases.”
Hickman was already at his desk, looking through a folder. “We were looking at a serial offender of some sort, and the odds of him crossing gender lines was negligible. But if he’s acquiring assets to sell, it’s reasonable that there are more victims.”
Tony shrugged out of his jacket, dropping it over someone’s chair, and went to join Berger at the computer, forgetting about the rest of the interview.
* * *
14 July 2009
Major Daniel extended his hand with a sincere smile. “I do hope you’ll consider joining our team. I think you’d fit in well.”
Tony shook his hand. “It was… Well, I can’t say it was fun, but it was a good investigation, and the team is great.” He’d wound up staying four extra days in The Hague to help the team with the case. Most of Daniel’s team of misfit toys were presently in Greece, working with the Hellenic Police to break up the human trafficking ring, leaving Berger, Major Daniel, and Tony at the main offices to coordinate. They’d made the arrest thirty minutes ago, and Tony had felt like that put the pin in his visit. He had no authority to work in the field here, so he’d been functioning as a consultant purely from the office.
“Do you want to grab dinner?” Berger offered.
“Yeah, that sounds good. My flight isn’t until first thing tomorrow, so my evening is free. Let me just inform the lieutenant keeping up with me.” MI6 had given Bond some sort of quick mission while he was in the Netherlands, and Tony hadn’t bothered to inquire since Bond probably couldn’t tell him anyway. The KMar had taken on the task of keeping an eye on Tony, but he only interacted with them when he left the ICC buildings.
“There’s a good pub two blocks away.” Berger shot Major Daniel a look.
Daniel smiled. “Go. The reports can wait.”
Berger grinned, shrugging into his jacket. “I can text Lieutenant De Vries the address.” They were relaxing his security a little because Eli hadn’t tried to make a move and they’d managed to confirm that two of the rogue Mossad operatives had left the country already. Maybe Eli had bigger fish to fry.
“Perfect.” Tony gathered his stuff and nodded to the major. He’d said goodbye to Michel yesterday because of the man’s busy court schedule today, promising to consider the offer to join the unit. Q already knew Tony was heading straight back to the US in the morning, not stopping back in the UK, so he figured Q had passed that information along to James. He certainly didn’t feel like he needed to keep tabs on Bond.
Dinner was entertaining, and the food was good even if it wasn’t Tony’s usual fare. He found Berger oddly endearing. The guy was awkward in a way, a little too serious sometimes, and telegraphed some serious angst about something on occasion. But there was also a sort of naivete coupled with easy humor. All in all, he was an unusual guy, and Tony really enjoyed his company. People pointed to Hickman as the inscrutable member of the team, but Tony disagreed. Hickman was pretty easy to understand. Brilliant, of that there was no doubt, but Tony’d met plenty of guys just like him over the years. Berger was the most enigmatic in Tony’s opinion.
They stepped out into the night air, and Tony glanced around. “I wish I’d gotten some tourist time here.”
“You’ll just have to come back,” Sebastian said with a grin.
Tony laughed. Berger hadn’t prompted him about the job at all during dinner. “I guess I will.”
“We can catch a cab a couple of blocks that way.” He pointed down the street. “You know, we could use you on the team.”
“You guys have a great team already; you don’t really need me.” Not that that was any sort of deciding factor.
“We wouldn’t have broken the case without you.”
“Now, that’s not true. Other than making the initial connection, the rest was everyone.” It was one of the stronger, more well-rounded teams Tony had ever worked with, and every member had brought their A-game. “And you can’t say that someone else might not have made that same connection.”
“Maybe.” He nudged Tony’s shoulder. “I still think it’d be good for us. Hickman can use the challenge.”
Tony chuckled. “I don’t think ‘foil for Carl Hickman’ is a reasonable life goal.”
“But maybe it’d be good for you too.” Sebastian paused, so Tony halted as well. “Maybe new scenery is what you need now.”
“Maybe.” Though he’d been offered a lot of very new scenery. “I think you see more than people give you credit for, and they already give you a lot of credit.”
Sebastian grinned. Then, abruptly, his expression blanked as he stared over Tony’s shoulder, his whole demeanor becoming stiff and wary.
The distinctive sound of a round being chambered made Tony sigh. He turned slowly, hands up, finding six men slowly stepping out of the shadows with Eli David bringing up the rear.
“So, you finally decided to make a move.” He gave Eli a once-over, pasting an unimpressed look on his face. “I mean, what took you so long?”
“You think this is a game?” David stepped closer, into the glow of the streetlight. “I knew if we gave you long enough, your guards would be lax.”
“And where is my guard?” These assholes had better not have hurt De Vries. The guy had a three-month-old baby girl.
“Sleeping off a little cocktail we slipped him. Never fear, he’ll be fine. I have no urge to court war with the KMar.”
“Just with the entirety of the United States? Well… Priorities, I guess.”
Eli bared his teeth. “My daughter called you Agent Meatball. I see—”
“How clever,” Tony said dryly, not interested in letting Eli monologue. “My last name is Italian. I’m a special agent. Agent Meatball. I mean…wow.”
“Shut up! You cost me everything.”
“You cost you everything. Rivkin was with Ziva on your order, right? You set that whole bag of crazy loose on the world.”
The seeming non sequitur obviously took Eli aback. “You know nothing.”
“I figure I know something. But what I can’t figure is why you couldn’t stop playing games. She was loyal to you. She was complicit in several murders for you. And yet you couldn’t stop interfering, couldn’t stop arranging the chess pieces. But to what end?”
“You think you understand me?” Eli bit out.
“I don’t care to understand you; there are some heads I’m not interested in exploring. You sacrificed all of your children on the altar of…what? Do you even know? Was it actually worth it?” He noticed he had all of the henchmen’s attention. “You had Ziva kill Ari—her own damn brother. Your son!” Several of the men shot Eli sharp looks. “She gave you everything, did you have to keep going, keep pushing and demanding more?”
“Shut up,” Eli said lowly, giving off an air of menace.
“I mean, I figure you’re going to shoot me whether I talk or not, and I’ve always been the yappy sort.”
“No.” Eli shook his head. “You’re going to come with us. I was denied my right to interrogate you, but I’m going to redress that wrong. You will regret ever crossing me, Agent Meatball.”
“But I’m not interested in spending time with you, Eli. I figured you got that memo, what with the State Department coming down all over your prime minister after I refused your little tête-à-tête.”
Eli smirked, and Tony wasn’t at all surprised when he said, “If you want Mr. Berger to walk away from this situation with the use of his legs, you’ll come with us without any further complaint or delay.”
Sebastian clamped a hand on Tony’s arm. “He’s not going with you.”
Tony shook his head at Sebastian. “Walk away if you can,” Tony whispered.
“No. That’s not how this works.”
“It’s pretty much exactly how it works.”
“Both of you it is,” Eli said, looking completely happy with that outcome.
“No.” Tony was not letting Eli and his goons drag Sebastian with them. “He’s not—”
“Enough!” Eli yelled, lifting his arm and pointing a small-caliber pistol at Tony.
Tony didn’t even hear the shot.
Eli jerked, a red spot appearing on his forehead just before the back of his head blew out all over the pavement. Tony grabbed Sebastian’s arm and shoved him towards the nearest building, trying to get cover as several shots were fired.
It was over almost before he could blink. The two surviving Mossad operatives were on their knees, hands laced behind their heads as members of the KMar flooded the street.
Tony stood next to Sebastian and tried to get his bearings.
It wasn’t the first time in his life that a situation had been resolved brutally and much faster than the brain could process. It wasn’t new, but it was always disorienting.
He talked with the scene commander, giving a preliminary statement and making arrangements to come by and sign some paperwork before he left in the morning. The guy was a little cagey about how they had so many men waiting. Then Tony huffed as James strolled out from an alley, sniper rifle in hand.
Bond handed off the weapon to a sergeant major then flashed Tony a smug look. “I prefer a more intimate weapon but needs must.”
“Did you really use me as bait?”
“As charming as it is, I can’t keep following your ass all over Europe.” James looked completely unrepentant.
“And you couldn’t tell me? Because bait is an important step up from the delicate hothouse flower I’ve been treated like for the last few days. I’d have been all on board with the bait situation.”
“An orchid?” James asked, apropos of absolutely nothing.
“African violet, maybe. I’m not delicate or fussy enough for an orchid.”
Sebastian looked at him like he was crazy.
“You seem plenty fussy.” James grinned. “I need a martini.”
Tony sighed. “James Bond, Sebastian Berger. Sebastian, meet the guy who needs you to show him where to get a good martini in The Hague.”
Sebastian seemed a little stunned but gamely offered his hand to Bond.
Tony pointed a finger at him. “Did you know about this?”
“No!” Sebastian shook his head fervently. “My involvement ended when we got word of the sniffer Ms. David had planted on your router and I traced the signal. I was busy with the case from that moment on. I turned over my findings as ordered.”
“Yeah, all right.” He shot Bond a poisonous look. “You’re buying.”
“I just saved your life.”
“You treated me like chum.”
James made a dismissive gesture. “He needed to not suspect anything.”
“That doesn’t mean I didn’t need to suspect anything. I’m an exceptional undercover agent, you overbearing ass.”
“Does this mean no martini?” Berger asked hesitantly.
“It means all the martinis,” Tony countered. “I’m just trying to figure out how many James is going to have to buy. And I’m telling Q.” He started after Berger.
“Now, wait a minute… Let’s not be hasty.”