- Character Bashing
- Discussion - Murder
- Violence - Canon-Level
- Alternate Universe
Chapter 8: The Play as it stands
Fornell was as good as he promised and opened the door to Gibbs. “So how is operation unfuck going?”
Gibbs’ eyes rolled at Fornell’s nickname at his return to NCIS even if it was perhaps the aptest way of describing it. “Abby seems to now think she is a teenager, not a lab technician, McGee is worried and fretting over his upcoming court case, and I had to let David know that she either shapes up or ships out of the MCRT.”
Fornell cackled. “And I missed it, I was going to ask Garcia for her to find the video evidence. She has already sent me the video of you taking down McGee.”
Gibbs shrugged not even the least bit bothered by it. “He deserves it for that drivel masquerading as fiction.”
Fornell snickered in a way unbecoming of the Deputy Director of the FBI. “So you were not a fan?”
Fornell chuckled as he put the pizza in front of him. “You know Tony is doing brilliantly. By all accounts, he has slotted into the BAU like he has always been a part of it.”
Gibbs sighed. “Is there a point you’re making?”
Fornell looked at his old friend. “What? Was I being too subtle for you?”
Gibbs shook his head. “Well, let me make NCIS safe for him too before he even needs to contemplate the future.”
“And how is that going?” Fornell asked, wondering if Gibbs needed or wanted help.
Gibbs shrugged because he had some evidence already but if he was going after the director of a Federal Agency then he wanted an air tight impeachable case. “I have the notes from Tony, I have her on tape trying to blame HR which is in direct contradiction to her emails that Tony has also printed. I’m meeting Ducky too, I think he knows something more.”
Fornell was intrigued. “Like what?”
“No idea, now any ideas on how to keep dumb and dumber from getting out of hand?” Gibbs asked because his current preferred method kept circling back to shooting them.
Fornell shook his head. “You are on your own there but I have beer.”
It should be noted that as the beer flowed – the suggestions got wilder and wilder.
Aaron had told everyone that tomorrow they had the day off. Tony grinned up at him after the others had left. “So you are not going to be doing anything stupid are you?”
Tony did not look impressed with him. “You know – like leave yourself a target for Foyet.”
Aaron sighed. “Honestly? My plan was to sit around my apartment and read and try to relax.”
The bit left unsaid was the part where he would sit around and brood. Tony could see it in his eyes even if he was trying to deny it. Tony asked him. “Are you worried about Jack and Haley?”
Aaron looked raw at the moment because that was exactly the problem. Tony explained it to Aaron hoping to alleviate the stress. “She and Jack are in WITSEC and are currently being shadowed by the scariest CIA agent I know.”
Aaron let out a sigh of relief and Tony could see the tension somehow leave his shoulders. “Thank you.”
Tony shrugged. “Happy to help.”
Aaron smiled. “You are more than just a bodyguard you know. Your assistance in the last case helped us before there was another victim.”
Tony smiled and left it at that, he wasn’t all too used to praise for his job and as a result – it made him feel awkward. “Thanks, well, if that is all … I have to go. Emily is demanding I teach her all the soccer skills I know.”
“Fornell, Tobias dragged me to his when I needed advice and I was adopted the next day apparently,” Tony explained.
Aaron was sure it didn’t register to DiNozzo that he had some very high-placed friends. He smiled at the unsure tone. “It doesn’t sound like it was unwilling.”
Tony shook his head. “Nah, Em is a great kid.” His phone ringing broke the conversation and Tony had to smile. “Speaking of Em, excuse me.”
Tony knocked on the door to be met be a powerful thud, which was little Em running at him. “Hey Em.”
“I’m so glad you’re here. Daddy and Uncle Gibbs are arguing over the bbq.”
Tony chuckled. “How about we let them argue and go watch a DVD, I have a few new movies for you to try from our last conversation but I think you might want to watch this.”
It was a good job that Tony knew an ear-splitting squeal was a positive thing. “You found Adventures of Lavagirl and Sharkboy.”
Tony nodded. “I did. You’re welcome.”
“Tony?” Fornell’s voice filtered through the house.
Em was tugging on his hand. “Please let’s go and watch the movie. You don’t want to be bored do you?”
Tony chuckled. “Why don’t you get the movie started? I need to speak to your Dad first.”
She huffed sounding like a teenager already. “Fine.”
Tony could see Gibbs and Fornell gossiping and had to smirk because not many in Washington would believe the scene. “Hey, so LA was warm.”
Fornell snorted. “I heard you had a bit more than fun in LA. Congratulations, on reviving Dante’s career.”
Tony rolled his eyes. “I had a rockstar kiss me but I can’t shake someone from my head. Plus, all credit has to go to his spectacularly unhinged manager.”
Gibbs was intrigued. “Who would that be?”
Tony played it obtuse. “Ray Campion was the unsub’s name.”
Fornell wanted to grin at the way he was already using the BAU lingo rather than NCIS. Gibbs just stared at Tony. “You know what I meant.”
Tony shrugged. “Maybe but I promised Em I would watch a movie with her. So suspicions will have to wait.”
Fornell was visibly shaking with laughter finding it that funny. “Oh, your face is a picture, Jethro.”
“Do you know?”
Fornell smirked at his old friend. “Well, I have my suspicions.”
“And you’re not going to tell me?” Gibbs said already knowing the answer.
“That is correct.” Fornell responded. He had absolutely no intention of ruining Tony’s trust the way the others had. “Now, you can tell me what is phase two of operation unfuck?”
McGee was sitting with his lawyer explaining just how screwed he was. “So is this going to trial?”
His lawyer, Aidan, shrugged. “That depends on how much you want this book published.”
McGee wanted to scream. “It was cleared by the Director so what’s the problem?”
Aidan looked at him as if he was questioning his intelligence. “Well, it is not the Director you needed to worry about. It’s JAG and you have Harmon Rabb himself looking at it.”
McGee groaned knowing what happened. “Tony helped clear his name and he would feel he owed Tony one.”
Aidan didn’t care why. “It doesn’t matter why he was is looking into it but you have the Head of JAG corp reviewing your book.”
“It was not written on people or cases!” McGee insisted stubbornly.
Aidan shrugged. “Look I will defend your case but if there is an ounce of truth to these claims you do realise you could lose your job? Are you that sure of success?”
McGee frowned. “Why would I lose my job?”
“That little thing called the official secrets act.”
McGee paled as he understood now. Christ, he needed to find Tony and make him drop this ridiculous lawsuit. He knew that Abby would be able to find Tony and if she did, well, it’s not like Gibbs would shout at her, was it?
Em could hear her Daddy talking and teasing Uncle Gibbs. Did her Tony like someone? It would be cool if he did. He deserved to be happy. She didn’t want to disturb the movie as it was one thing her and Tony agreed on – the sanctity of the movie.
Still she was too curious for her own good. “Is Uncle Gibbs right? Do you like someone?”
Tony sighed. “I do Em, I know I like him a great deal and respect him but I have a job to do.”
She could understand that and she loved the way Tony explained it to her, didn’t treat her like a baby. “And when the job is finished?”
Tony smirked. “Then I will ask him out.”
“Good,” Emily replied. She wouldn’t be deterred from her mission and would remind him if he forgot. She just knew he would talk himself out of it.
The next day Tony headed straight to the BAU having ended up falling asleep on the couch. He’d woken up to a cup of coffee and a bagel. He was glad he had the foresight (order from Fornell) to bring a change of clothes.
The team was arriving at the same time. “Morning.”
Rossi smiled. “Morning. Good day off?”
Tony smirked as he tried to explain his day in a way that would make sense. “Well, I made a promise to a ten-year-old to watch a movie and did my best to stop two of the most stubborn men in Washington from plotting too much.”
The team frowned but Hotchner gave them some small insight. “Well, good luck in keeping Agents Gibbs and Fornell from any type of plotting.”
Tony shrugged. “I failed anyway. Emily informed me I was to leave the boring adults and watch a movie with her, it was my duty as her designated big brother.”
There was no doubt though, from the fondness in his voice that he was more than okay with it.
JJ breeze down the stairs looking paler, which was quite the feat in itself considering her complexion. “We have a serious case coming through, we need to be in Hampton, Virginia and soon.”
Hotch knew this was going to be a bad case. “Okay, wheels up in thirty. We will brief on the plane. Get a message to Reid about where to meet us and have Garcia forward the relevant files.”
“Where’s boy genius?”
Tony was glad that Morgan asked because he was curious. JJ was the one to answer. “He is at the conference on neuroscience and profiling.”
Rossi was sad the for the genius as he knew how much Reid had been looking forward to the course. “Well, class time is over.” He’d read the first file and knew what they were dealing with. “We need to hurry this is a family annihilator.”
Hotchner finished his thoughts. “And they are just getting started.”
Chapter 9: To Outfox the Fox – Part One
The team had arrived at the murder site. It was a normal family neighbourhood, no different to any other and yet, for some reason the night before someone chose to murder this entire family. Tony clocked the field agent standing on the lawn. “Army CID dead ahead.”
Rossi quirked an eyebrow and Tony replied with a smirk. Still, as he liked the elder Italian he also explained. “It’s like Fed’s and Cops, we can tell each other apart.”
Morgan snorted as he had also experienced the issue from both the cop and Fed side of the issue. “Too true.”
The woman turned around with the slamming of the SUV door. “Agent Hotchner.”
Aaron stepped forward. “Agent Hudson?”
“That’s correct, we’re really glad you’re here.”
It was never a good thing when the BAU were wanted on a case, sadly – they just hoped they could help solve the crime. Aaron took charge of the situation. “So what do we know?”
Hudson sighed. “The father is serving in Iraq. Three nights ago the neighbour came to find out why the dog was barking and no one had quietened him. When they came over, what they found was a shallow grave where the whole family had been buried. The eldest girl, Lucy, was still in her bathing suit.”
Tony had empathy with the father and asked. “How much does the father know?”
Hudson explained. “Not a lot. He was out on patrol when we got through so it took a while to find his unit. He’s due back on base today.”
Rossi knew he would need to talk to the man but asked the more pertinent question. “Why was the BAU called in?”
Hudson handed over another case file. “This was the William’s family, they were murdered a year ago. Also a father overseas, the wife and sons were shot, whilst the girl was drowned. There is a lot of heat coming down on the local police who have no idea how to handle this.”
Morgan looked around the neighbourhood. “Nice community, guessing with the proximity, officer families?”
He got a nod. Morgan spoke up as this was one of his more specialised areas. “So we know he is a family annihilator, we know he feels remorse. Why drown the girl?”
The CID agent was grave. “We would like that answer too.”
JJ had to add. “We will have to keep an eye on the media, they are already dubbing this the work of a serial killer.”
Hotch wasn’t flippant when he said it but he had to say it. “He would be right.”
There were too many parallels to Carl Arnold for Morgan to ignore it. He looked at his group. “Remind you of anyone? A family annihilator, who takes the wedding rings … the only difference is the fathers were killed too.”
The older members of the BAU all nodded and Tony spoke up. “How about filling in the newbies?”
It was Derek who explained especially as he had made the point. “Carl Arnold was a psychopath that slaughtered eight whole families that we knew of. He stalked each family, learnt everything he could about them and then when the time was right, he would kill the whole family, using their love against them … it was fuelled by his anger towards the fathers. He wanted to show them what happened when he believed the fathers were not strong enough. In his own words, wives whither and children perish.”
Tony shuddered for a second and that put it away because sometimes you had to put aside your own emotions to catch the bastards. The phone ringing broke into all their thoughts. “Hey Garcia, you’re on speaker.”
“I got a phone call from the head of Red-Onion, Supermax. It seems Carl Arnold has been sent two packages in as many days, with clippings of the two murders signed by an admirer.”
Hotchner knew what he would have to do. “Okay, thanks, Garcia.”
Emily shuddered with revulsion. “It’s disgusting how men like that have fans.”
Hotchner shrugged because right now he would take any advantage he could get in catching this killer before they struck again. “So I will need to talk to Arnold. The rest of you split yourselves between the two families and find the connection, or have a working theory about why the girl is always suffocated rather than shot. If we can crack that … we can crack this case.”
Tony followed Hotchner to his SUV. Tony could see the frown mar the Agent’s face and Tony felt that was a tragedy. “Don’t frown Hotchner and it is not negotiable. You heard Toby, if you are going to SuperMax you can bet you will have your shadow.”
“Foyet won’t be waiting for me in the prison.” He tried to argue as the chatter had so far been unconfirmed and not substantiated which is how he’d managed to evade having a full security detail.
Tony shook his head. “You said it yourself, serial killers have fans. What’s to say there isn’t a surprise waiting for you at the SuperMax? You have watched the Following, right?”
Aaron had almost forgotten that the Deputy Director got him a model bodyguard with how well Tony had worked in the team. The other awkward part would be the long drive with the very attractive agent. Aaron was divorced, not dead. The plus side was that with their bold first meeting he knew Tony was gay – as an added bonus, Haley would pitch a fit when she found out.
He shook all those thoughts aside because he had to ask. “You’re okay with going to a Supermax holding the worst scum on the planet to have a chat?”
Tony shrugged it off. “Yeah I am, Hotchner, I was a cop before I became a fed. Remember Fornell’s comment about not getting handcuffed to a serial killer? I was handcuffed to Jeffery White for the last twenty-four hours of his life.”
Tony saw the widening of Hotchner’s eyes as he understood what Tony hadn’t said. He could tell the Agent was brooding and he had only the briefest facts of the previous encounter between Hotchner and Foyet – he had no idea what it was like between Aaron and this Carl Arnold, aka the Fox. “Well, while you drive and brood I have some case files to read.”
An hour later, Tony closed off his iPad and sighed, he was no stranger to deviants. “When I was on the force in Baltimore I had a run in with the Creeper and managed to bury him with one conversation. Do I have permission to play my own games if I think it will yield results?”
Aaron switched from impressed to astonished at just how quickly DiNozzo managed to adapt to any situation. “How do you play it? The interrogator, the seducer or the friend?”
Tony gave him a blinding smile. “I think you know the answer to that, don’t you?”
Gibbs had managed to find time to grab a lunch with Ducky away from the NCIS building. It had been harder than he could think – it seemed like every time they tried to eat dinner, Jenny would interrupt.
“Hello Jethro, what was it you wanted to talk to me about?”
Gibbs smirked as he sipped his coffee, it wasn’t a tragic cup at this cafe, part of the reason he had chosen it. “You assume I want something.”
“I am old, not senile.”
Gibbs rolled his eyes. “Yes, I do. Jenny – is there something I should know?”
Ducky froze in taking a drink of his tea, confirming there was something for him to know. Gibbs nudged. “Ducky?”
Ducky sighed, “You are asking me to break patient confidentiality.”
Gibbs rolled his eyes. “Ducky, Tony is at the FBI for his safety. He is playing bodyguard for a unit-chief as that was safer than staying on the MCRT because of Jenny’s actions. Now, I am building the case against her that I will take to SecNav. Thing is, this is not the Jenny I know … so I am asking if there is something I should know especially considering the person is a Head of a Federal Agency and is misusing resources.”
Ducky looked stricken. “What has she done?”
Gibbs replied. “She tried to isolate Tony and ensure he took an unsanctioned operation against a personal enemy with no thought to his personal safety. Now, Tony was too smart to accept the operation and said as much but he became so concerned with a few incidents that he asked for my help.”
Ducky spluttered. “Good Lord, that stupid woman. She promised me, Jethro.”
“What did she promise you?” Gibbs was insistent.
“At her monthly check up she queried certain symptoms to the point I referred her to an oncologist specialist. She said the tests were negative but the day you came back I got the doctor’s notes to add to her file. I was confronting her when you walked back in. She asked me for a week to put her affairs in order. I agreed but was monitoring her closely to see if I would have forced the issue. I thought with all of her years of service she deserved an exit of her own making.”
Gibbs wanted to shake his head because she’d used it. It was clear that some of her more irrational behaviour may have a source but he found he didn’t care. She had a duty to leave far quicker that she had, she was trading on Ducky’s friendship. Well, no more, it seemed he needed to have a chat and introduce SecNav to the meeting.
Tony walked through the supermax hearing the leering calls and the several suggestive cat-calls. He could see Hotch next to him tensing up and wanted to remind him that he was more than okay handling the nasty deviants of the world. “Hey, it is reinforced glass and I know what I look like but Hotch … all they have left are bitter dreams and fantasies.”
Aaron nodded. “Let’s go talk to Arnold and get out of here.”
They stepped into the conference room and Tony just sat down. He didn’t even bother with the niceties or let Hotchner introduce them. He saw the fascination on Arnold’s face – it was clear that he was not expecting Tony. “Agent Hotchner you didn’t tell me you were bringing me a gift. I thought it would be Agent Prentiss but this one is prettier.”
Wow. Life goals, right there, to be considered a gift for a serial killer. There were bigger problems right now and Tony’s unease was growing. How would Arnold know about the inner workings of the current BAU team as he’d been locked up for nearly five years?
Hotchner was a skilled interrogator in his own right but during the next half hour he saw a tour-de-force. He decided there and then he didn’t want Tony just as a guard, or liaison. He wanted him in one of the units, even if it wasn’t his own because he was too good to be wasted at NCIS. Arnold was a sexual predator of the worst kind and yet Tony came in and sweet talked him into revealing everything they wanted. Arnold was also so sure of himself and smug, wanting to take control of any meeting. So of course, Aaron knew that at some point Arnold was going to try and poke at him – the lack of wedding ring being the obvious route.
“Yeah I took the wedding rings and you seem to have lost yours.” Arnold finished with a smirk on his face.
Aaron didn’t get a chance to comment as Tony smiled sweetly at Arnold as he placed a proprietary hand on Aaron’s. If you looked at Tony in that moment you would believe him a man infatuated. “Yeah, it was a deal breaker before I said yes.”
Aaron would have to say he would treasure the shocked and horrified face on Arnold for a long time to come. The serial killer lived to control his environment and while there were many things that Tony DiNozzo may be, controllable wasn’t one of them. Hotchner, who liked rules, control, and orderliness, was finding that idea more and more appealing.
Arnold reared back in surprise. “I don’t believe you.”
Well, that sounded like a challenge to Tony but he had his opening and went for it with ruthless efficiency. He spoke in vivid detail about all the things he did to Aaron and all the things that Aaron did to him. Aaron was a professional so he wouldn’t give anything away but he could admit to a few of those images flashing through his mind.
Arnold sneered not realising he’d fallen into Tony’s trap. “You know he will find out about your pretty boy and kill him to make you hurt.”
Tony had to laugh because it was as he suspected. This was less about their current case and more about Foyet. There was a key component missing when comparing the two sets of killings. He ignored that for a brief moment to work on his assignment. He turned from the flirt to a serious man. “Will he? So Foyet is in contact with you then, Carl.”
Arnold petted his hand and it took everything in Tony not to recoil. He would react when he had what they needed. “I’m sorry you will be involved but Foyet feels like Agent Hotchner has emasculated him so he seeks retribution.”
Tony leaned forward, “Will he come for me, or his family? Come on, tell me. I deserve that much don’t I?”
Hotchner looked through the book Carl had brought with him and the symbols and the letter meant the threat just became substantiated but he knew the answer and said it. “He knows about my family … he doesn’t know about you unless Carl tells him.”
Tony could see the vicious predatory grin and Tony decided to stack the deck in his favour. “Do you know what Hotchner? Carl here can’t help us. It is all about the focus, Carl here committed the murders to kill his father over and over again, with the amount of self-loathing maybe even himself. Our murders though, there is no sexual assault and it is all about the young girl. Huh? Think for a second, it would explain why the profile has been so different.”
Hotchner sighed because there was the missing piece of the puzzle and it made such a huge difference but it was so rare. He pulled out his phone to send a text. Morgan, we think the murderer is a woman. She is trying to save the girl from the pain of life. We need to find her stressor before she kills again.
Aaron stood back in control thanks to DiNozzo drawing all of Arnold’s attention on him. “You know what, I’ll find Foyet just like I found you.”
Arnold chuckled. “No, Hotchner, he will find you and your delicious new love I think.”
Tony shrugged it off. “Bring it, Foyet wouldn’t be the first serial killer to have a go and none of them have been successful yet.”
Arnold grinned and it was sly, Tony wanted a wash at just that looked being directed at him. “Oh, but the challenge will just turn Foyet on.”
Tony leaned in suggestively to get Arnold close enough and then he used a classic cop move and Arnold didn’t even see the slam against the desk coming. “I may be pretty but I only bend over for Agent Hotchner.”
“HE WILL COME FOR YOU!” Arnold shouted as they left.
Aaron was impressed with how calm DiNozzo was but had to ask. “Do you often bait serial killers?”
“I have to get my kicks somehow,” Tony replied with a smirk.
Aaron’s frustration was growing. “He will go after Haley and she is in Federal Protection.”
Tony rolled his eyes because he’d already planned for Foyet’s potential avenues of attack. “I’m an all action guard and your ex-wife and son are enjoying a holiday at the beach with the scariest CIA agent I know. I can’t promise miracles but Agent Kort will make Foyet severely regret challenging him.”
Aaron huffed. “You already guessed this might happen.”
Tony shrugged it off. “I have a unique point of view, I am a cop and I worked inside the Mob. I asked myself what Don Mancuso would have done and then made plans accordingly.”
Aaron found himself asking. “What level did you rise to?”
Tony played it cool but answered him honestly. “He called me son and to this day considers me his heir. I am apparently more ruthless than his biological sons and therefore most likely to succeed and it was because I put him in prison. Strange guy really.”
Aaron just knew Tony was going to cause trouble and disruption in his life but he figured maybe it was what his life needed. “Why did you make Foyet come at you?”
Tony smiled hearing the worry in Hotchner’s voice. “I chose this life and its dangers – I can take care of myself and by focussing his interest on me, there’s less chance of him going after your family. Plus you know I’ve set a trap, don’t you?”
Aaron rolled his eyes with sarcasm evident. “Yes, I caught that. I could have done without all those tantalising fantasies though, we have to concentrate on this case.”
DiNozzo chuckled but finished suggestively. “Oh Hotch, they are only fantasies until Foyet’s behind bars and then I fully intend to make them a reality if you’re game.”
Hotchner had to think of every unappetising image he could think of to keep his body under control. “I will hold you to that.”
Tony smirked but he was phoning Fornell. “Toby, I need guards to be rotated around Hotch’s house.”
There was a pause before Tony carried on. “Yeah, well that is before Carl Arnold and Foyet became pen-pals.”
Hotch looked at Tony as he took control with natural confidence. It was unusual for him being the Unit-Chief. “Do I get a say?”
Tony shook his head as he hung up the phone. “No, I have a vested interest and keep in mind that I don’t want extra agents lurking around your home overnight when we finally relieve this tension between us.”
So there it was – a tacit understanding that they both felt the same. Whatever was between them would happen: it was a question of when not if. Hotch said his comment reflexively. “Why.”
Tony couldn’t resist. “Goodness me Agent Hotchner, what if one or both of us are too loud? We have our reputations to uphold after all.”
A raised eyebrow was his only response mainly because Hotchner couldn’t shake the idea planted in his mind. It was a good job they have experienced professionals as by the time they reached Hampton they were the perfect Agents they needed to be.
Chapter 10: To Outfox the Fox – Part Two
Tony was glad they were still alone in the car as they needed to have this conversation in private. He didn’t want to test Aaron’s authority or show dissent in front of the others but he wouldn’t tolerate Aaron endangering himself. He knew it would be hard for him to accept the protection though, as it would go so against the grain.
“So are you ready for me to tell the team?” Tony asked Hotch.
“No. No, I am not but I know it is necessary.” Aaron responded.
Tony let out a sigh of relief. “Oh good, I was ready to argue but I am glad you are sensible.”
Aaron snorted. “I have it in me to be sensible. Let’s go find this unsub.”
It was fitting as they had rolled up in front of the local police department where the team had set up. They had the case files on board and they had tried every trick to find the link between the families – it was very rare in a situation like this that there wasn’t some connection. After all, their killer had targeted these families and there was a reason for it so they needed to find it.
Tony and Hotch walked into a discussion and theory session seeing if the team couldn’t unpick something new especially in light of the idea that it was a female unsub.
“What is the connection?” Morgan asked rhetorically.
Prentiss answered wearily. “We know it is the absent father. We know it holds significance to the killer and the fact the girl drowns. We just don’t know what significance.”
Rossi tried to take the conversation down a different line of thinking. “So the fathers are thousands of miles away, right?”
JJ nodded. “Yeah, they had emails, photos and scheduled skype sessions.”
Garcia’s voiced piped through the speaker. “You know that is military grade protection on their privacy and that is some serious juice.”
JJ groaned. “I’ll call my contacts and see what I can do.”
Tony announced himself back. “Which database and what do you want to know?”
The group looked at him with dawning realisation. “I forgot.”
Tony chuckled. “I’d almost forgot but technically I am on loan.”
Rossi smirked because he saw the look of everyone on the team and had no doubt that they would try to change the loan to a permanent deal. Any more theories were put on hold as Agent Hudson came back looking grave and the team knew what she was going to say before she said it.
“There has been another family murdered.”
McGee slid down to Abby’s lab mentally replaying the arguments he had in his head. He was shocked when he noticed the lab was more modern. “Abs?”
She poked her head up from a spectrometer. “What do you want?”
McGee was immediately on the defensive. “What have I done to deserve that tone?”
She sniffed. “Your stupid book has ruined everything.”
McGee frowned not understanding that point of view. “I disagree and it is not my fault.”
Abby looked up incredulous. “So Tony reads your manuscript and the next day he is gone. And you don’t find it strange?”
Tim shrugged because he’d been too focussed on the chance to shine as SFA without Tony stealing his glory. “No, I didn’t care. It’s not like he adds much but comic relief to the team.”
Abby’s jaw dropped to the floor because that wasn’t just a throwaway comment, it was dismissive in the extreme. “You don’t mean that.”
“Of course, I do. He is mean and always playing jokes.”
Abby wished Gibbs was here to listen to this but she would tell him. She had no idea that his world-view, not to mention his memory, was so distorted. She could admit that without Gibbs’ chat with her she might have been swayed and that scared her. “You weren’t here when the team was just Gibbs and Tony, Timmy, so don’t talk about things you don’t understand. And have you forgotten just who trained you to be a field agent?”
McGee huffed. “Look, I just need you to find Tony for me, Abs. He’s causing all kinds of problems and might sue me.”
She stared at him unimpressed with his attitude. “Oh really, and since when are you Gibbs?”
She smiled sweetly. “Then get out of my lab, right now before I make you a science experiment.”
Abby hadn’t forgotten Gibb’s promise to suspend her if she withheld information from an agent. She figured as the information she was withholding was about DiNozzo then she would be safe.
The latest crime scene was almost an exact replica of the other two houses with the mother and sons murdered and the daughter suffocated, probably due to the lack of family pool. The bodies were in a pit but they were not buried – this set off several things all at once.
Rossi was the one to say it. “If they are not remorseful, what are they?”
It was a good question but there was an even more pertinent point which Morgan raised. “Why have they killed only three days later, that points to a major psychological break.”
Hotch agreed. “So what could it be?”
Morgan shrugged because a psychological break was personal to the individual. “We know that such a primal response is usually triggered by a sense of smell.”
“Or sound.” Prentiss interjected.
Tony looked up at the passing jets. “Like aircraft. Were there any maneuvers going on when the first family were murdered?”
Hudson nodded, “Yes the annual air show, big but not this big.”
“We have a few ideas then, let’s head back and run down the leads.” Hotch ordered. He noticed that Tony was still staring at the grave. “What is it, DiNozzo?”
Tony sighed. “It’s the grave, the scene reminds me of something but I can’t think what.”
There was nothing else they could gain from the crime scene so they want back to their base of operation, they hoped Reid and Garcia had managed to make some headway on their research.
The team went straight to work upon arriving back at the Police building. They knew they were on the clock, the major psychological break meant that the unsub could strike again at any time. Tony put the photos of all three burials together and asked Reid. “What do you see?”
“Mass burial grave. Oh.”
Tony sighed because as soon as he said it, they both independently came to the same conclusion – the unsub was not American.
Reid explained, seeing the confused looks on the other members of the team. “It reminds me of the mass graves but none of them have been seen on the mainland since before World War Two.”
The implications were easy to arrive at but were frightening at the same time. Tony had seen mass graves during some of the international work he’d done as an Agent at NCIS and it never got easier. “If so, then the unsub is likely to have been born outside of the United States.”
Rossi took the idea and slotted it together with the other information. “So we are looking for a woman in her mid twenties to thirties. She will probably have little to no english and suffered a massive trauma involving mass graves.”
Reid ran the dates. “Then the trauma probably was as a result of the Serbian conflict in the early 1990’s.”
“Jesus, a psychopath born from that conflict, that is a scary thought.” Prentiss noted.
Hotch posed the question to the group. “So if we worked on the assumption the unsub has little to no english then how are they picking their victims.”
Tony looked at the photos once again, he’d always been leery of photos – with his stints undercover, photos could literally kill him if they were the wrong ones. “So many photos, everyone puts their whole lives online these days.”
Tony shook his head. “I am an undercover specialist – it would be a rookie mistake to do that.”
Garcia shouted down the phone. “Stallion, you are a genius.”
Garcia snickered. “Yes, you caught the link – it is the photos, specifically the site where all photos have been uploaded.”
Hotch asked immediately. “Can you get their employee list and see if any employees would fit the profile?”
“Already on it, boss. I have one name that fits the bill, sending you the address and file.”
Derek grinned. “Thanks, Baby girl.”
Meanwhile back in Washington, Gibbs was sitting down in the office of SECNAV Jarvis. “What can I do for you, Jethro.”
“We have a serious problem that needs fixing.” Jethro explained.
Jarvis quirked an eyebrow. “And you can’t shoot it.” He wasn’t being flippant, he knew his agent’s style. Jethro prefered a direct route to a solution so if he was coming to him for help, it was more than likely going to be giving him a headache instead.
Jarvis would have loved to remind him who he worked for but it was pointless. He did as asked knowing it was more than likely vital. Oh, Jesus. This wasn’t just a headache, it was a clusterfuck in the making. “What is she playing at?”
“Dying and vengeance while she still can.” Jethro answered.
Jarvis huffed. “I don’t give a shit about her vengeance but she does not get to use United States to fund a vendetta. Where is DiNozzo?”
Gibbs sighed. “He is currently serving as a liaison to the FBI, working on assignment for Deputy Director Fornell.”
Jarvis wanted to bash his head on the desk. “So whilst you were on medical leave she managed to ruin the MCRT and drive away DiNozzo?”
“That would be my assessment, we’d be lucky if he comes back.”
“I really want to throw her in the brig.”
Gibbs wanted to do a hell of a lot more than just see her land in jail. Still, he knew with the medical angle and the potential PR disaster in the making. “Hey, I would be the one losing the key.”
Jarvis rubbed his face and pressed the intercom for his assistant. “I want Director Shepard in my office within the hour!”
Jarvis looked at his most steadfast agent. “Do you want to stick around for the conversation?”