- *No Site Warnings Apply
- Canon Divergence
- Science Fiction
I never bought Allison Barnes as the CEO after Nathan Stark died. I am using my OC Jackson Grimes, who is a tech and R&D genius as the new CEO of Global Dynamics.
15 June 2009
The private plane landed at the Arcata-Eureka airport located in McKinleyville, California. The flight from Colorado wasn’t a long flight, which Tony was grateful for. He wanted to get to his destination and just take a breath for a little while. The time with Ez and his friends helped, but Tony needed some time to himself to get his head together a little bit more. Things were moving faster than he expected, and he was a bit out of sorts.
After landing, Tony thanked the flight crew and the flight attendant who had taken excellent care of him during the short trip. As he deplaned, he noticed a local sheriff leaning against an SUV with Tony’s name on a hand-written sign.
“Don’t tell me. You’re the welcome wagon?” Tony held out his hand, and the sheriff took it. A pinched look on his otherwise handsome face had Tony wondering what put that look there.
“Sheriff Jack Carter. I was asked to come to pick you up and bring you to Global Dynamics.”
Tony tilted his head and studied the sheriff for a moment. There was something in the man’s demeanor that was making his gut clench, but Tony couldn’t say what it was. There was a deep sadness to the sheriff’s eyes, but Tony didn’t know this man, so he decided to keep his own counsel.
“Well, I have my bag. I’m ready anytime you are.”
Carter nodded his head and turned to open his door before sliding into the SUV. Tony got in on the passenger side after throwing his bag in the back seat.
“So, what can you tell me about Eureka?”
Carter opened his mouth like he was going to say something then knitted his brows together. “Eureka is…unique. I don’t really know if I can properly explain the town. You really just need to experience it for yourself. And…hope nothing weird happens. Of course, that’s like asking the sun not to rise.” Carter turned towards Tony and had the first smile on his face since Tony had met him.
“Should I be worried for some reason?”
Carter’s brows almost disappeared under his close-cut bangs, his mouth scrunched up, and his head bobbed from side to side, which Tony felt did not bode well for his immediate safety. “Some words of advice before you get sucked into the downright crazy that is GD. Don’t let anyone talk you into taking part in any experiment, no matter how cool it might sound. Don’t let anyone hand you any tech, no matter how enthusiastic they seem. Keep away from scanners. And lasers. Possibly robots as well. Except for Andy, who is one of my deputies. And, lastly, whatever you do, if you run into him, do not follow Dr. Taggert anywhere, no matter how much he might beg.”
Tony took a breath and started to say something then snapped his mouth shut because what do you say to a crazy man? That was the only explanation that made any sense to him. Sheriff Carter had, for some reason, gone a bit round the bend. Tony kept his counsel and would definitely give Jackson a piece of his mind. That was, if he got to Global Dynamics in one piece.
Carter, when Tony looked at him again, had a smug smile on his face. The drive was thankfully short, and Tony was glad when Carter just dropped him off in front of GD.
“Have a good day.” The friendly smile on Carter’s face had Tony staring after the car as Carter drove away. He only noticed a moment later that his mouth was hanging open. Shaking his head, he turned and looked at the large, slightly imposing front doors of the Government’s semi-top secret premiere research and development company.
“What the hell am I getting myself into.” Tony blew out a breath and felt like he was on shifting sand. He was completely out of his depth here. Tony had no clue what he was going to be walking into, but he was here, so there was no use in turning back. Tony girded his loins, so to speak, and walked through the door into the unknown. Tony just hoped he walked back out. Whole and in one piece.
* * *
“Tony DiNozzo. I never thought I would get you even close to one of my companies. Let alone in a place like Eureka. You were very adamant in the classes you took that you were doing them to help you be a better investigator and that was it. I can say with certainty that I never saw this coming.”
Tony leaned back in the all too comfortable visitors’ chair sipping on some rather excellent coffee that Jackson was tight-lipped on where it came from. Tony could get addicted to the coffee alone. “I can honestly say that I never saw it coming either. I guess that’s when betrayal hurts the most.”
Jackson stood and moved around the desk to sit in the chair next to Tony. “Look, I know whatever went down. Aaron has been on a tear. My ears are still burning at the epic bitch fest I was privy to because he had no other place to vent. I don’t need to know the particulars, that’s for you. If you want to tell me, you can, but I make no obligations on you, Tony.
“I know that sometimes you can talk things to death, and I’m sure before you land on your feet you’ll need to explain things to others. But, here, I don’t need an explanation. Think of this time as a safe space. A place you can let things go for a while, and time for me to woo you.”
Tony chuckled and shook his head and had an overwhelming feeling of safety in Jackson’s presence. “I thought you were married.”
“Oh, haha, DiNozzo. I’m not talking about my bed. Though at one time—” Jackson let the rest of his words hang, and Tony actually felt himself blush. Tony could admit that when he first met Jackson Grimes, there was an attraction there. But Grimes was his professor, and there was no way he was going to muddy those waters and potentially damage the man’s reputation. Of course. if one believed all of the stories about him and his husband, there was little Tony could have done to sully him further. Tony also wasn’t getting in between that convoluted mess no matter how good looking the man was.
“Now you tell me. I was being good, not wanting to get you fired and all that.”
Jackson smiled that ridiculous crooked smile of his and ran his hands through his equally ridiculous, spiky hair. It did nothing to curb the man’s good looks. “Oh, but it would have been worth it.” Jackson jumped up off his chair and walked over to a locked cabinet.
Tony was startled at the sudden change and waited for Jackson to explain whatever it was he was doing.
A moment later, the CEO was sitting behind his desk once more with a thick folder he threw down on his desk. “You’re here, Tony, because someone intercepted official mail that should have made it into your hands. These were sent to you through official channels because it has to do with some of those codes you tinkered around with in my classes.
“I was planning a trip to DC to come to see you and find out what the hell was going on since I never received any communication back. That one,” Jackson pointed at the top letter in front of Tony, “is the most important as it has some papers I needed you to look at. I stupidly assumed that it would be safer to send it through an official channel and not to your house.”
Tony took the envelopes Jackson held out, thoroughly confused. He stood and walked over to a table on the other side of the office, Jackson thankfully didn’t follow him. Tony needed time to figure out just what was going on.
He sorted the letters by date then began to open each one and read the contents carefully. It took time as there were a few and the letters had Tony frowning more and more.
“I don’t understand.” Tony finally turned back to Jackson.
“That code you were playing around with? There is a lot of potential to change the way law enforcement communicates with each other. Especially when dealing with serial crimes.”
“Okay, but that doesn’t explain why I’m here. We could have this conversation anywhere, at any time.”
Jackson sported a wicked grin, which made Tony very nervous. “Then, let me show you something.” Jackson stood and motioned for Tony to follow.
The silence was not uncomfortable. There was some excitement to the way Jackson was moving that bled off and had Tony buzzing with his own enthusiasm. He just wasn’t sure what it was for.
To fill the silence and to calm his nerves, Tony turned to look at Jackson and began to speak. “So, how did you get involved with GD? I thought you were happily running your own company and trying to take over the world.”
“Not the whole world.” That got a chuckle out of Tony as the two of them walked down to the first floor then through a set of double doors. “I knew Nathan Stark. He was a good man deep down. Though a bit of a snob and a bully, he loved science and technology as much as I do. It can make some of us lose sight of our humanity when we win too many accolades, and I saw that happening to Nathan. He struggled more than people realize. He wanted to be better, but he just didn’t know how. It made him a complicated man, but I admired him very much.
“I can’t tell you exactly what happened, but Nathan sacrificed himself, and it left this town grieving. It also left a vacancy. There was talk in certain circles on who to make CEO. When I found out, I put in my bid for the job, turned Grimes Tech over to my very capable CFO, and waited them out. Because Grimes has a robust R&D division with cutting edge and sometimes out of the box technology, the powers that be chose me.
“Not everyone here at GD was or still is happy about that, but they have, or will in time, come to respect me. Come on, this is what I want to show you.”
Tony followed Jackson through twisting corridors and down a couple more levels until they came to a large lab. Jackson punched in a code, used an eye scanner, and after a panel popped open, a thumbprint scanner. The door finally opened.
Tony huffed a little. “That’s some crazy super secret spy shit right there.”
“Yes, well, security around here is pretty tight on all projects. Come on.”
Tony was still reeling over the letters he had read back in Jackson’s office. They were requests to speak with him regarding some pending patents in his name. The largest packet was information on the formal patents and where to send any monies that he made off the code he had created. Tony still wasn’t understanding any of this. He had just read up on the different computer languages and found he’d understood them better than he thought he would. In between work and class, he’d played around, thinking outside of the box, and honestly believed what he’d done was a bunch of nonsense.
“This is the lab where we have been working on fleshing out what it is you started. What you began to create technically shouldn’t work, but it does. This has the potential to rewrite whole database systems and make it easier for the agencies to share information with each other.”
Jackson swept his arm in front of him indicating the bank of computers in front of them. “Look, Tony. Your code come to life.”
Tony stood there looking at the multiple computer screens and seeing some Matrix-level shit going down. His mind still wasn’t quite catching up to what Jackson was telling him. “I don’t understand any of this. I thought I was just, you know, making nonsense. Frankly, I approached your coding class like I do my music. Just went with what felt right.”
Jackson was staring at him like Tony had two heads.
“Of course,” one of the men shouted as he stood and bounced over to Jackson and Tony. “Music. That’s exactly what this is. We’ve been going about this all wrong. You, sir, are a freakin’ genius.”
The man grabbed Tony’s hand and began to shake it uncontrollably. “This is like…a magnum opus. Tell me, what were you thinking of, specifically, when you started to ‘play around,’ as you said.”
Tony glared at Jackson as he chuckled at Tony’s obvious discomfort with the situation. “Dr. Jamieson, calm down. I think you’ve frightened our guest here.”
“Oh, oh, sorry. Just, I’m impressed.” Dr. Jamieson stood back, but Tony could tell he was practically bouncing on his toes.
“Honestly? I was listening to a compilation of Mozart’s operas. It sometimes helps me get out of my head for a while.”
“That’s it! Come on…” Dr. Jamieson grabbed Tony’s hand and pulled him over to a computer desk and had Tony sit down. “I see now where you were going.” The man started to type furiously at his keyboard, and Tony tried to keep up but was lost in the first five minutes.
“Mark, let’s let Tony have the tour and settle in. He’s going to be here for the week. I’m sure you can pick his brain later.”
Tony slid out of the chair and sent a silent thank you to Jackson, and the two left the computer lab.
After stepping out of the lab Jackson waited a beat before he spoke again, “Of course, your code has applications elsewhere as well. But, we can talk about that later.”
Tony swallowed and nodded, feeling a bit overwhelmed.
Tony was led to different labs, learning what GD was all about. The two of them found themselves in the medical lab.
“Allison, I would like you to meet a former student of mine, Tony DiNozzo. Tony, Dr. Allison Blake.”
Allison turned around, and Tony just lifted a brow. The woman was beautiful, he could admit. When she took his hand to shake it, he was surprised at the firm grasp. He appreciated a woman who wasn’t afraid to shake hands.
“Nice to meet you. I heard you are a soon-to-be-former government agent.”
“Wow, gossip travels fast.”
“Allison is the Assistant Director of GD. She was read in on your file along with Sheriff Carter.”
“Yeah, about Carter. He’s a bit…different.”
Allison didn’t try to hide the smile on her face. “Carter is a good man and an excellent Sheriff. Believe me, he’s gone through a lot in this town.”
Tony opened his mouth to say something when a short, slight man came running into the lab.
“Okay, don’t get mad at me. It’s not my fault. I swear, Dr. Grimes, please don’t fire me.”
Allison and Jackson turned to the man, and both looked at him like they didn’t believe him.
“Fargo, what did you do?” Allison crossed her arms over her chest, but her tone told Tony this was something they had often said to the young man.
“Fargo! You get your ass out here right now!”
“That…that would be Sheriff Carter.”
“Fargo…where, the hell, are you?” Carter sounded like he had gone past angry to downright murderous. Tony felt like he was an intruder in some strange play that he had come in the middle of.
“Dr. Blake, help?” Fargo ran around Allison and literally hid behind her skirts.
“You can’t hide from me, you little degenerate!”
“Fargo, what did you do?” Allison asked.
Fargo had his hands twisted in Allison’s skirt as he looked up sheepishly at Allison. “I, well… you see…Sara and Andy…they wanted pets.”
Jackson closed his eyes, and Allison sighed. Tony was frankly lost, but he saw a man frightened and another man who was as angry as a kicked up hornet’s nest.
The frightened man looked up toward Tony, who crouched down to get to Fargo’s eye level. “Yes. Who are you?”
“Tony. But that’s not relevant at the moment. I need you to take a deep breath and calm down then tell me what it is that’s happened.” Tony looked up at Jackson and tugged on that something inside him that made him a good investigator and a good leader. “Jax, you go calm Carter down and let me talk to Fargo.”
Jackson turned on his heel, and Tony could just hear him taking Carter off somewhere else.
“Okay, you’re going to stand up and sit down right here.” Tony patted the med lab bed that was closest to him. “Can you do that for me?”
Fargo bobbed his head and stood up on obviously shaky legs. He hopped up on the table and quickly stammered out an explanation of what was going on.
“Okay, let me see if I understand this correctly.” Tony rubbed at his forehead a moment to get himself centered because the story he was just told sounded like some crack sci-fi in the back of a Mad Magazine. “Sara, who is the computer that lives inside Sheriff Carter’s house, and Andy, the android that is Carter’s deputy are having…” Tony looked to Allison, who was trying her hardest not to laugh as Tony tried to keep a completely straight face.
“An affair, Agent DiNozzo,” Allison supplied, and her eyes sparkled with humor, but Tony knew it wasn’t directed at him but more at the situation.
“Please, just Tony.” Tony turned back to Fargo, slipping his hands in his pockets to help him keep a straight face. “They wanted pets, so you made some robotic cats.”
Fargo bobbed his head up and down and gave Tony a nervous smile.
“And these robotic cats are now rampaging through Carter’s house.”
“Sara. Her name is Sara.”
Tony closed his eyes. He needed a minute. “Right. So, Fargo, did you think to ask Sheriff Carter if it was okay to have said robotic cats?”
Fargo scrunched up his face and slowly shook his head from side to side.
“Fargo,” Allison chastised as she too had to take a minute before she spoke again, “we’ve talked about this. You can’t just do things without others’ permission.”
“No buts. You need to help fix this.”
Fargo seemed to slump into himself and, for a moment there, the young man reminded Tony of McGee when he had first joined NCIS. Thinking of Probie had Tony frowning, and a well of grief surged inside of him. He swallowed over the lump in his throat at the loss of someone he once considered a friend.
“What can I do to help?” Tony’s voice was calm and almost gentle as he looked at the young Dr.
“I don’t know. But I should do something. This was my fault, and I should fix it.”
* * *
Tony wasn’t sure what he would find when Fargo, Carter, Jackson, Allison, and himself went to Carter’s house. What he walked into was something out of a cross between a robot gone crazy horror story and bizarre sitcom.
“Dad! Get these things under control! They destroyed my homework! Poor Simon.” The young woman was sitting on the back of the couch, the remains of a robot strewn about on the floor, tears in her eyes. Tony counted four large, almost Maine Coon sized robotic cats. They were growling and snarling at the girl, and Tony could admit they appeared somewhat intimidating.
“Bad, bad kitties.” A weird female voice came out of nowhere. When Tony turned to Fargo, because that was surely a feminized version of his own voice, the man blushed and shrugged.
“I don’t think that’s helping, Sara,” the girl said.
“I am just trying to calm them down, Zoe.”
“You’re not doing a good job!” Zoe yelled. The cats turned away from the robotic remains on the floor and looked at the group who had entered the house. Which, when Tony looked around and saw that there was broken furniture and knick-knacks all over the place, made him a bit nervous.
Fargo yelled at the robots, “Scruffy! Galacticat! Godzilla! And Chew-Chew! You bad kitties, you stop it right now.”
Four heads all turned towards Fargo at once and blinked their eyes. Tony did not even try to stop the laugh that bubbled up from inside. This whole thing was ridiculous. Talking houses, android deputies, raging robotic cats… How was this his life?
“You people are crazy.” Tony threw his arms up in the air and pulled away from the group and started for the door.
“Don’t move,” Zoe yelled, but it was too late.
As Tony moved away, the snarling, growling robots turned and ran at him, knocking him down. “Okay, someone do something. I am not getting killed by robots.” Tony was barely holding off two of the cats from ripping and clawing at him when one was pulled off of him and thrown across the room. That just made the cats angrier. Their eyes turned red, and the other three jumped off Tony, and freakin’ lasers shot out of their eyes.
“Fargo! What the hell?” Carter and Allison both yelled
“I thought it would be good security,” Fargo yelled back.
Zoe, no longer frightened by the robot abominations, was laughing hysterically. Unmanly screaming came form one of the other rooms then someone ran through the living room and hit the front door.
“That was Andy.”
Tony turned and gave Jackson his “I’m going to murder you slowly” look.
“What? Thought you should know.” Grimes shrugged and Tony wanted to wipe the cheeky smile off his face.
Tony rolled his eyes before turning to the others.
“Do you think we should actually do something about this?” Tony waved his hand towards the open door where the deputy and three of the cats had run out of the house. A moment later, an ungodly mechanical sound that was the equivalent of nails on a chalkboard came from where the fourth cat was trying to get up.
The five humans slowly and carefully took a few steps towards the sound. The cat growled and shot lasers out of his eyes in different directions making everyone duck. Then metal screeched before the robot cat fell the rest of the way onto the floor.
Tony grabbed Fargo and gently pushed him towards the cat. “Deal with that.” Tony then turned to the sheriff. “Do you have weapons that can deal with this?”
“Don’t kill my babies.” Fargo looked up wide-eyed at Tony.
“You made rampaging robotic cats with laser eyes, Fargo,” Tony yelled. He was done. This was too much even for his ofttimes strange life. “You people are certifiable. Sheriff, do you have something to deal with this?”
“Might have something back at the station. Come on.” Carter led the way out to his SUV where everyone piled in, and he drove the short distance. There was an intermittent scream which told them where the cats were. Tony sighed. He had no words, he was frankly done with the weird.
* * *
Three hours, two broken bones, several cracked ribs, bruises, and cuts later, and dirt and grime covered the five people who had gone after the rampaging cats. All of the remains of each of the robots were in separate metal crates deep in the bowels of GD. There was major damage in the main town, but Tony was assured things would quickly get fixed.
No one cared about their appearance as they sat around a large table at Cafe Diem. Tony tried not to think about the fact that the cafe owner didn’t even bat an eye as they dragged themselves in.
A few moments later, the table was loaded with coffee, shakes, burgers, fries, and salads.
“Wow. This looks great.” Tony grabbed a burger and took a big bite. He was starving after running after the deranged robots. “Oh. My. God. This is the best burger I’ve ever had.”
“Amazing, right?” Jackson’s goofy grin had Tony laughing at his friend.
“Not good enough to keep me here.”
“I take it your experience today has colored your view of our little town.” Jackson sighed as he sat back in his chair.
“Jax, I’m just not cut out for this kinda thing. This is your thing. And I’ll sign those papers because, well, I’m tired of being fucked around with. So, if you think you can do something with that computer code, by all means. However, I want the credit.” Tony was not going to let himself get taken advantage of again.
“Good. But I hope you’ll stay the week?”
“You can stay at my place. Even if it’s a bit of a mess.” Carter offered.
Tony laughed and thought that everyone in Eureka was a bit mad. “Sure. Might be fun.” Tony took another bite of his burger and didn’t even stop the moan that escaped him. He was not going to ask how it was made because he was a little afraid of ruining this experience.
“Jackson Pierce Grimes.” A tall blond, built, specimen of perfection stormed into the cafe.
Jackson looked up and paled a little. “Now, Tommy…”
“Don’t you Tommy me.”
“I uh, I think I should go.” Jackson stood and limped his way over to the man, who kissed his forehead and helped him out of the cafe while also chastising him for his dangerous and reckless actions.
Tony laughed, knowing Jackson would charm the literal pants off his husband before the night was over.
* * *
The rest of the week went by without so much as a blip on the proverbial radar. He found a strange camaraderie with Jack Carter but still thought the man was crazy, though the kind of crazy Tony liked.
They also talked. He was another officer of the law and, in trading stories back and forth, Tony let some of what was going on slip out in conversation. Carter sympathized. He had been an agent at one time and knew how fucked up things could get. Carter admitted he was happier in Eureka. He had time with his daughter and friends that may be weird and different, but they were unique and had become family to him.
“You and Nathan?” Tony finally asked. There were signs all over the house and underlying grief the sheriff had been carrying around.
“We…” Carter sighed as he stood and walked over to a cabinet that had been rebuilt. He pulled down a picture. It was a candid shot Tony had seen off and on over the week. “The time loop thing… Anyway, we admitted things too late.”
Carter turned and looked at Tony for a moment.
“Don’t be in a rush to find what you’re looking for, Tony. But, when you do land, if you find someone, don’t wait. Don’t wait like I did.”
Tony didn’t know what to say to that. While Wendy had done a number on him, she was still alive, and he knew there would be a time when he could look back on his relationship honestly. Yet, he didn’t understand the kind of grief Carter was going through. It made him think of Gibbs a little, which pissed him off. He wasn’t going to go down that emotional roller coaster again.
“I’m sorry, for what it’s worth. You’re a good man, Jack. I hope…well, I hope you do find someone. Your kid is pretty awesome too. But, seriously, did she have to bring back one of those damned deranged robots?”
Carter laughed, and it was infectious. Which made Tony laugh and, soon, the mood was lighter.
“I hope you keep in touch.”
Tony didn’t hesitate in giving Carter his phone number and email address.
“You too, Jack.” Tony picked up his bags, gave the sheriff a quick hug, and walked out to the waiting car. Jackson was taking him to the airport and letting him use his private plane. Tony knew where he was going next. He just prayed to god that it was at least a little bit normal this time.