AN: Wow, I can't believe that it was last September since I posted my last TATM tag. The past 12 months have been horrendous for me personally. I've lost four family members and come way too close to my sister dying in Feb. There have also been challenging health issues with other family members too. It's left me with little time to write and probably more pertinently, no inspiration to, either. This is the final tag in the series for season one.
Kudos: The credit for the main idea for this story – Cate's abduction – goes to Arress, plus various observations about the episode which I've incorporated into the story. Thanks muchly for your awesome insights. The secondary story of the dossiers came about because of a story I wrote for 2019 Quantum Bang and the secondary pairing within that fix it story for seasons 4 and 5. Somehow the characters and pairing ended up finding their way into this tag.
In case anyone is wondering, the title The Only Crime is Pride comes from a quote in Antigone by Sophocles... "All men make mistakes, but a good man yields when he knows his course is wrong and repairs the evil. The only crime is pride." I'll leave it to your own opinions about which character/s the quite is aimed at.
Warnings: This tag isn't beta'ed. There is a femslash relationship in the story – more of a friends-with-benefits situation, nothing graphic. There is a het pairing too, equally pragmatic. Finally, the tone in general contains a lot of dark subject matter and cynicism, plus, some stron languages.
Hope you enjoy reading it. Not promising anything but I'm hoping the next tag See No Evil (Season 2 episode 1) won't take me ten months to write.
Series: There's Always Tom Morrow
Story Title: The Only Crime is Pride
Cast: Leroy Jethro Gibbs, Caitlin Todd, Tony DiNozzo, Donald Mallard, Tom Morrow, Jenny Shepard, Ari Haswari, Ziva David and Jarrod Blain (OC).
NCIS Special Agent Jenny Shepard stood directly under the showerhead and moaned thankfully as the hot water cascaded down her neck and shoulders. The blessed heat penetrated and soothed her aching muscles and various spectacular contusions. After a mission in Yemen, that according to her partner's words, should have been 'a piece of pie' but had unexpectedly turned FUBAR, she and Mossad Officer, Ziva David had been on the run. They'd fled to the safe house in Manama, Bahrain, arriving a few hours ago.
Their operation - to eliminate a vicious terrorist cell - was supposed to be a simple matter of plant a few explosives, blow them up and get the Hell out of there, but had ended up being a lot more complicated than they'd expected.
They'd underestimated their opponents which was a cardinal sin in this game, although it really hadn't been their fault. Their Intel (from a Mossad informant) had been dodgy and instead of a cell comprising of five extremists, there'd been nine. Plus, they'd stockpiled a shitload more explosives in their shed than Mossad had been led to believe from their source.
As a result of the bad Intel, they'd been caught up in the blast from the IED that Ziva had planted, which, when it combined with the extra stockpiled bombmaking supplies was a lot bigger than they'd intended. Most of the cell had been killed in the massive explosion, unfortunately, two of the terrorists (which they didn't know about) had been returning to their base when the IED went off. Not so surprisingly, they'd been pissed off and had gone on a revenge fuelled hunt for the saboteurs. Ziva and Jenny had been chased relentlessly across Yemen and into Saudi Arabia where they'd eventually managed to lose them. Sore and exhausted, they headed into Bahrain to Mossad's safehouse to rest up.
Clean now and feeling a lot fresher, Jenny strolled out to where the young Mossad officer was concentrating over a file. Ziva was also freshly showered and dressed in clean cargo pants, tank top and a khaki shirt unbuttoned – her usual attire unless she was planning on seducing a mark. The Israeli's hair was still wet from her own shower, a riot of ringlets falling down her back, leaving a wet patch on her shirt. She looked up and smiled, her dark, doe eyes taking in the much-improved visage of her partner and occasional bed partner, approvingly.
"Do you feel better, Jenny?"
"Much better, thanks, Zee. Is that our next mission?" Jenn indicated the file that the Israeli was studying intently. She'd frankly been hoping for a little more downtime before jumping back into the fray. Her bruises had bruises.
"No, we have been given a few days to capture our breath. This is something I'm working on for Ari and involves Agent Todd. Perhaps you can look it over and offer your opinion." Ziva smiled at her coquettishly.
The red-haired NCIS agent nodded, understanding Ziva's flirty behaviour. Now that they were safe, they had an excess of adrenaline still circulating in their systems. Sex was a good way to relieve their pent-up stress – and a safe way too. In general, physical activity was an effective release, as was spending time at a shooting range but they were laying low, so sex was the most practical – and at least for the willowy redhead, the most enjoyable. Jenn wasn't so sure about Ziva – she reckoned that the shooting range came a close second.
Her younger colleague was remarkably pragmatic about the idea that partners should step in when their libidos needed to be sated. Ziva said that if Jenny was hungry or thirsty, or needed to sleep, Ziva attended to those primal needs, so how was sex any different? Especially when it was dangerous for agents to go out and pick up some random stranger or were in hostile locations where discretion was paramount.
Before Jenny started working with Ziva she never would have thought of herself as being bisexual. She'd only been attracted to guys but ah... Ziva was extremely well trained in pleasuring males and females.
As for the file that Ziva was perusing, she was well aware of Ziva's half -brother, Ari Haswari, who was also Mossad trained. She also knew that he was currently infiltrating an Al Qaeda/Hamas cell in the US. Ziva was not only her partner in a number of missions, but she was also Ari's Mossad handler. The two partners had compiled psychological dossiers on the major players at the DC office of NCIS a few months ago. In his guise, as a Palestinian doctor turned terrorist after the death of his mother, Ari had been sent into NCIS by the cell to retrieve a smallpox virus seized by NCIS.
He'd needed extensive Intel on the various members of the MCRT and other personnel to pull off the mission. There had been a lot riding on the success of mission so he could earn the trust of Al Qaeda and Hamas. Unfortunately, he'd failed to retrieve the virus or repatriate the terrorist's body so it could be properly buried. At least Haswari managed to avoid getting captured, despite the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team having NCIS on lockdown and Gibbs hell-bent on capturing him.
Jenny had advised Ari on the physical layout of the building, particularly about getting in and even more crucial, getting out. because she had worked there so she was obviously familiar with their security measures. She'd also helped Ziva develop profiles on the personnel Ari was likely to encounter to infiltrate the DC office of NCIS.
Jenny knew Leroy Jethro Gibbs and the medical examiner, Donald 'Ducky' Mallard professionally, plus she'd also had an extremely steamy (albeit short-lived) affair with Gibbs when they were partners. So, it made sense that she was best-placed to write profiles on the two men; she was able to supply a lot of insights into the pair. Of course, one thing which had come to light which had been a complete shock to her was the existence of Jethro's first wife and child.
It made her wonder if all his red-headed girlfriends had been his way of trying to bring her back to life? Jenn decided it was lucky she'd never wanted to play house because – hello three ex-wives...all redheads.
Meanwhile, Ziva had investigated and profiled the two new agents on Gibbs' team, plus the forensic scientist who was reputed to be Jethro Gibbs' pet/ surrogate daughter, to profile them for Ari since Jenny didn't know them. The younger trio had all been hired after she and Jethro parted company in Europe six years ago.
Jenny admitted, she'd had been curious about the two agents who Gibbs worked with since she had once been considered his protégé. There were times when she missed working with the former Marine, although she knew that she'd gotten in way over her head with him. Shepard wasn't looking to settle down with Gibbs and live in connubial bliss – as Ducky would say - she had much bigger fish to fry. Which was basically why she'd left the way that she had – writing him a Dear John letter to inform him they were done, professionally and personally. At the time it had been hard because the sex was so mind-blowing, so addictive, but a torrid rebound affair with Eli David had helped take her mind off her anguish and guilt. But that was a long time ago, now she'd well and truly moved on.
After reading the profiles which Ziva had composed on the newcomers, Shepard learnt that the female agent was an experienced Secret Service agent who'd protected the POTUS. Jenny had to question what the hell she was doing on an investigative team – particularly the agency's premier investigative team which handled complex cases and high-profile crimes. Although... Agent Todd had been reputed to be a psychological profiler, so maybe that explained it. There was also that debacle with her breaking fraternisation rules but hey, having fraternised with Jethro and now Ziva, Shepard wasn't exactly able to throw stones at the glass house.
Still, she must be an awesome agent, despite her lack of training. Jenny knew first hand that Jethro didn't tolerate incompetents on his team.
The male agent who was also the senior field agent and Gibbs' new protégé and heir-apparent, was a former police detective who came from a wealthy family. Both his mother, who was British, and his father who was a second-generation American whose great-grandfather was Italian, had inherited sizeable fortunes so Agent DiNozzo had lived a privileged life. Like most spoiled rich youths, he'd been wild and uncontrollable as a child and sent to a number of boarding schools to try to contain him. He'd been thrown out of most them too. Equally, he seemed an unlikely candidate for Jethro to mentor; Ziva had profiled him as frivolous, superficial, entitled and none too bright. She'd privately nicknamed him Agent Meatball.
Jenny shrugged and walked over to the table where David was studying the file, reading the information over Ziva's shoulder. Bottom line, Ari's cell wanted to force down the Sea King which would be flying President Bush and the Israeli Prime Minister, Sharon to Camp David for talks. They'd opted to use training rockets known as Smokey Sams to target Marine One and the two other helicopters which always accompanied the President's helicopters rather than using live missiles to force them to land.
Jenny walked around the table, pulled out a chair and sat down. "Why has Hamas elected to target Marine One along the Potomac.
"Because there is only one place for the helicopters to make an emergency landing and the terrorist cell will be there, waiting to take out the Secret Service agents and Marines so they can seize the two Heads of State. They plan to hold them hostage then demand the release of some of their members who are in prison in Israeli." Ziva explained.
Shepard nodded. "Okay, so why use the training missiles, Zee?"
"Ziva took a deep breath as she launched into the explanation. "There is no need to use real rockets. The emergency protocol is for Marine One to immediately land if it fired upon by surface to air missiles. The training rockets are harmless but will appear to be real. They want to capture the President and Prime Minister alive, they don't want to take any unnecessary risks with their safety as they are valuable hostages."
"You mentioned Agent Todd - what's her involvement in Ari's mission?"
Ziva frowned. "The problem with the plan is that once the President's helicopter is down, they need to take out the two decoys and shoot the tail off Marine One to prevent it from flying away. To do that, the terrorists needed to know which of the three aircraft is carrying POTUS and the Israeli Prime Minister. This is where Agent Todd enters the numerical sentence, Jenn."
"The numerical sentence? WTF was Ziva on about?" It took her a moment to figure out she meant the equation although Jenny didn't correct the Israeli.
"As a former Secret Service agent who has protected the POTUS, Ari has convinced them that Agent Todd knows how to identify which helicopter is Marine One. This is why they need to abduct her and extract the information."
"You mean, torture her to get it, don't you?"
Ziva shrugged philosophically but didn't reply.
Jenny looked across at her partner in exasperation. "There is no way for Todd to identify them, Zee. Why is Ari telling them she has that information?"
Ziva nodded. "Ari know this, Jenny. He is no fool. He merely wants his 'colleagues' to believe this to be the case so they don't decide to come up with another method to abduct the pair that might be more of a risk."
"But it places an agent in danger, Ziva. Why can't he just tell them he fucked her, and she gave him the Intel?" Jenny asked.
"Ari is concerned that his position in the cell is still quite tenuous. Al Qaeda in particular, is still suspicious of him, due to his failure to retrieve the smallpox virus. Although Todd no longer works for the USSS she is inconsequential. In the scheme of things, she is not a valuable asset. She can, however, help Ari by convincing them that Ari is doing everything humanly possible to make the mission a success."
The Mossad operative hesitated before admitting, "Plus Ari seems to have a strange obsession with her. I do not totally understand why he is intrigued by her, but I know that because of it, if it is humanly possible then he'll protect her," Ziva rubbed her nose, bemusedly.
"However, his first priority has to be to break his bones with Hamas and Al Qaeda, Jenny. You know this better than most. Nothing must be allowed to jeopardise his mission – it is too important."
Jenny looked torn, she didn't like the idea of putting a fellow agent into harm's way when it was not necessary. Automatically she corrected her partner, "The phrase is to make his bones, not break his bones, Ziva. And just what do you mean about Ari being intrigued by her?"
Ziva frowned. "He is certain that she is sexually attracted to him."
"Just because she hesitated to sever his jugular when she had a chance?" Jenny snorted incredulously.
"Ari said that when he disarmed her, her pupils were dilated, and she was aroused. He told me he could cut the sexual tension with a sword."
"A knife, Ziva. You cut the sexual tension with a knife."
"No... he said that a knife would not be strong enough." Ziva sounded disdainful. "I do not think she is the only one smitten, I believe he wants to copulate with her too."
Jenny looked shocked. "Seriously, Zee? But aside from him lusting after her, we can't let Hamas terrorists abduct her. It isn't... ethical."
"Agent Todd swore an oath to protect the President, therefore in a way she is protecting him by being the heart of Ari's plan, even if she is no longer a Secret Service agent." The Mossad officer told Jenny dispassionately. "With a successful resolution of this operation, Ari may be in a position to prevent another 9/11. We must let the chicks fall where they may."
Jenny bit her lip, refraining from correcting Ziva because it wasn't important – Agent Todd's safety was. "Ari will try to protect her?" she asked reluctantly. She agreed that stopping another 9/11 had to take priority but she didn't like it.
Ziva nodded. "If he can, Jenn. I think he has a hard spot for her. He is already working on framing a member of the cell to be the traitor when he sabotages the operation."
Sighing long sufferingly, the NCIS agent corrected her, "It is a soft spot, Ziva... Ari has a soft spot for her. It means he has kind feelings about her," she explained.
Ziva frowned and she shook her head. "Ari was most definitely not soft when he was discussing her, Jenny, he was hard. He wants to nail her. He reckons she looks like some ridiculous character called Prue Halliwell in a show called Charmed about three witches and sisters who fight evil." She paused," Ari is a member of her fan club." Ziva stated, sounding quite derisive about her half-brother's obsession.
Jenny swallowed down her amusement at her partner's scorn. Ziva was not exactly a fan of popular culture. But the NCIS agent admitted that the disclosure did relieve her worries. If Ari had a hard-on for Agent Todd because she reminded him of a favourite actress that he wanted to sleep with, hopefully, he would look out for her.
Resigned, she looked down at the plan to abduct Agent Todd which Ziva pushed across for her to scrutinize. As she read it, she started shaking her head. She looked up and told Ziva half regretfully and half relieved, "Hey Zee, this scenario will never work."
Shepard marvelled at Ziva and Ari's naivety and their lack of knowledge about law enforcement procedures. A tiny car with three guys of Middle Eastern appearance and the passenger seat vacant, which just "happened" to be sitting at the lights when Ari comes roaring up beside them. He revs his engine, showing off like a peacock soliciting a mate to attract Agent Todd's attention and then lifts his visor to show his face. He grins at her, taunting her and then goes roaring off down the road, daring her to chase him. Never gonna work!
Ziva looked affronted. "What is wrong with the plan? It is like playing catch me if you can. She will run after him as he rides off into the horizon and then sees the car at the lights with a spare seat in the passenger's seat. Todd will leap in and order the driver to chase Ari. It will be a piece of pie."
"A piece of cake, Ziva," Jenny corrected her patiently.
"Whatever," The Israeli re-joined, indifferently. "Both are made with sugar, flour and eggs and taste good.
Letting the mangled idiom slide, Shepard returned to the childish plan, trying to explain the mentality of a professional.
"A federal agent might leap into a strange vehicle with three strange guys when it's a movie, Zee. But this is real life! Todd is a highly trained former Secret Service agent. She wouldn't be so stupid, " Shepard told her categorically.
Noting Ziva's expression and knowing her stubbornness, she changed tack, asking, "Okay, what makes you think that it would work, Zee?"
"According to the buttlescutt, Gibbs is furious with the team for Ari escaping. He is stomping around yelling, demanding that they identify him. He's has been pestering Mossad about trying to find out who Ari is, although for obvious reasons they are denying that they know his identity." She smirked. "He is constantly screaming at his agents to find out who he is, and so Agent Todd will be psychologically and emotionally primed to chase Ari." Ziva argued with conviction.
Deciding not to bother correcting the scuttlebutt/buttlescutt reference, Jenny mentally conceded that Ziva made some strong arguments. "Okay, I get all that, I do. BUT... this is a trained federal agent who protected the freakin POTUS, Zee. Standard Operating Procedure dictates she calls in a BOLO, not go chasing off after him without her own vehicle or any backup. If she got into the car, she would be putting civilians in jeopardy to pursue a suspect and is a big no-no." Jenny explained it as gently as possible because they would need to come up with a better plan.
"Maybe that is true under normal circumstances, Jenny, but Caitlin Todd is not your average federal agent," Ziva shrugged dismissively. "The revised profile Ari and I have developed for her shows someone who, like Gibbs, thinks that rules for other people, not her. She believes herself to be an exceptional agent (which is not necessarily true) and is over-confident."
Seeing her partner's look of disbelief, she said, "She makes many, many errors yet despite her ineptitude, she continues to be employed, Jenny. She is impulsive and has much trouble separating her emotions from her actions. It would not be tolerated if she was in Mossad," she finished superciliously.
Jenny thought about what Ziva was saying but she still wasn't convinced. Nope, she couldn't believe that any sane federal agent would endanger civilians, even if it was to catch a dangerous terrorist. They just might, if they were motivated enough, decide to commandeer the car and order the occupants to evacuate so that they could chase someone. An agent would never involve civilians and order them to pursue a suspect, no matter how much of a screw-up they were.
Besides, as Jenny has good reason to know, Gibbs was a hard taskmaster who refused to accept mediocrity or incompetence in his agents. Therefore, she found it hard to believe he would keep someone on the MCRT if she was so stupid as to fall for Ziva and Ari's trap.
Sensing that Jenny was not convinced, Ziva gave a smirk. "I can see that you are a suspicious Thomas. Would you like to make a wager, about whether Agent Todd takes Ari's bait or not, Jenny?"
Shepard chuckled. "It's a doubting Thomas, Zee and what did you have in mind for a wager?"
Ziva pursed her lips as she considered Shepard's question. "If I win, then you must cook shrimp gumbo and Key Lime Pie for desert."
"And if I win, then you have to make Beef Cholent and sufganiyot or chocolate rugelach," Shepard said feeling smug, her mouth already watering at the thought of the dinner which Ziva would have to cook.
She momentarily thought she shouldn't be taking advantage of Ziva's naivety - this was such a sucker bet because there was no way Jenn could lose. Then she thought about the heavenly slowed cooked beef stew and decided that it was Ziva's lookout if she made a crap bet.
Jarrod Blain sat at the outdoor table, eating his delicious lunch before heading back to the office for an important meeting with a client. Blain was a thirty-eight-year-old advertising executive stealing a well-earned time out before he had to deal with a notoriously difficult to please millionaire client. Grant Braxton owned a chain of fast-food restaurants, which to be honest, struct him as an oxymoron. If they were fast food could they really be a restaurant?
Braxton was always a super-critical guy, wanting to make constant changes to the advertising campaign. Then when he saw those changes (which were based on his demands) he almost always hated them. Worse, he'd get angry about their supposed incompetence. He was certainly Jarrod's most challenging client.
Seriously, it was stupid to hire experts and not let them do their job properly. And the firm which Blain worked for were experts – INFIN8EE were damned good at what they did. The team had won numerous CLIO and Cannes Lions Awards in recent years, yet this client was a micromanager as well as a nit-picker. Which was dumb - he'd hired the ad agency because they knew what they were doing, and he didn't know diddly squat about advertising.
So, Jarrod had ducked out to grab a fish burger and French fries from an unpretentious yet excellent little café with outdoor dining so he could get his head together. Okay, so it also allowed him to indulge in his favourite diversion – people watching - which was a good way to take his mind off the ordeal awaiting him. Jarrod loved watching people; had done ever since he was a kid. The sandy-haired ectomorph was fascinated by them - he loved trying to figure out if people were related to each other or what types of relationships they had with their companions.
Were they work colleagues? Were they lovers having an illicit workplace affair? Maybe they were friends with benefits or perhaps college friends. They might be business acquaintances? The possibilities were endless...and exciting.
He'd concoct elaborate backstories for the people he watched while he was in restaurants, and when he was out and about doing the shopping or running errands. Not bizarre stories, just mundanities like where they grew up, where they went to college and what they studied, what they had for breakfast and the model car they might drive. He weaved together harmless minutiae, not some elaborate plot about them being Russian sleeper agents for a spy novel or anything over the top.
Jarrod recognised that he was a frustrated fiction writer, even if he was a well-respected and a very successful advertising executive who'd recently been offered a partnership in the firm he worked for. Still the idea of him also becoming a published writer wasn't completely outlandish. Bryce Courtney, who'd published The Power of One which had also been made into a major movie, was also the creative director of an extremely successful ad agency in Australia. And he hadn't only published The Power of One, either - he'd gone on to develop a second highly successful career as a writer in Australia, where he'd emigrated to from South Africa.
Right now, though, Jarrod was using his people watching passion to spy on... umm... to watch a highly intriguing trio sitting at the table near him. He was watching an attractive looking but rather domineering female and two males. One was a mature guy who was still handsome despite the march of time and a much younger one who was definitely very good looking and knew it. At first, Jarrod thought perhaps they were a young couple having a leisurely lunch and catching up with an aging parent. However, when the younger guy rose and left the table abruptly with a barely perfunctory farewell to the two other diners, Blain abandoned that theory. They probably just worked together, he decided.
He wondered if perhaps the female (who looked a lot like Brenda Walsh from that hit show in the nineties, Beverly Hills 90210)) was in a relationship with the mature guy she was with. A May-November kind of relationship wasn't that unusual, they had an actual name for it, he joked mentally.
Another possibility was that maybe the younger male and female were siblings. Quite a plausible one since the Brenda look-a-like had whacked the younger guy over the head for pinching something off her plate. He was understandably peeved about her attack on him. He'd told her off emphatically, even if Blain wasn't close enough to hear what was said – his body language spoke volumes. So, they were much more likely to have a familial relationship – work colleagues wouldn't tolerate that kind of overly familiar bratty behaviour. More evidence that they were family not colleagues was the fact that the older guy hadn't even batted an eyelid when Brenda hit the young one over the head.
After the younger guy had left the table, dashing off with his meal barely touched, the woman and the mature guy continued their lunch, apparently arguing over who would pick up the check. The woman eventually rose, dropping a kiss on the older guy's cheek before strolling to the corner, waiting for the lights to change so she could cross the road. The kiss between them had been polite, not exactly passionate... so maybe the older guy was her father or an uncle and not her lover.
Jarrod's eyes followed the attractive brunette Brenda (as he dubbed her) as she made her way to the set of lights. Probably heading back to work, he decided since she was dressed in business attire. While she stood on the corner, waiting for the lights to change, a biker roared up to the intersection on his vermilion red, black and white motorcycle. Blain chuckled as the rider revved his engine noisily in a move that screamed 'look at me' before lifting his helmet's vizor to flirt outrageously with Brenda. Maybe he was also a fan of Beverly Hills 90212!
Blain pulled out his phone and started to film the man and machine because the motorcycle was a beautiful piece of engineering and the rider who was dressed in matching motorcycle leathers plus helmet. The advertising executive appreciated the aesthetic spectacle, even though he'd never been a motorcycle aficionado, preferring a good muscle car himself.
He couldn't help thinking that the scene would make a fantastic commercial. Although the frustrated novelist in him also thought it would also make a great scene for a book or an ad campaign. A sexy macho guy pulling up at an intersection and attracting the attention of a pretty girl.
Jarrod often filmed stuff that inspired him, either as concepts for future advertising campaigns or for plots and scenes for his novel. He had scores of video vignettes collected which he could peruse when lacking inspiration. So, when the shit literally hit the fan, and 'Brenda' went from drooling over the alpha motorcycle guy to pulling a gun out of her handbag and running out on the road to try to shoot the guy, he kept filming. Truth to tell, he thought it was pure gold.
He watched the attractive woman rush up to a sporty looking blue Mini Cooper, waiting at the traffic lights. After watching cop shows like Hills Street Blues, One Adam 12, Hawaii Five-O and NYPD Blues, Jarrod had honestly expected her to order the occupants out of the car and commandeer it by getting behind the wheel and chasing the biker dude. Of course, Jarrod was assuming that she was a cop but maybe she was some psycho stalker-like in that movie Fatal Attraction with Glenn Close and the brash biker dude was her no-good ex. She clearly had anger issues since people didn't go around hitting men over the head or pulling a gun when someone revs their bike. He decided that maybe the biker was a Russian spy, planning on overthrowing America and destroying democracy and Brenda was working with the CIA.
So, he was suitably gobsmacked when she leapt into the empty front passenger seat and directed the driver and passengers to chase after the guy on the bike. Jarrod decided that instead of it being the inspiration for his first book, this video was much more likely to end up as footage on the evening news.
Still, if it ever did end up as a scene for his book and it got made into a movie, he knew who should play Brenda, the badass but lunatic crime fighter.
24 hours later:
Tom Morrow stared at the television screen and the footage which was playing out practically non-stop on ZNN and numerous local television stations with dismay that wasn't diminishing, despite how many times he'd viewed it. The poor-quality video from some guy's phone was interspersed with florid exposition from reporters. Unfortunately, yesterday and today had been slow news days so as the story gained oxygen, commentary and analysis were sought from so-called subject matter experts (otherwise known as a pack of retired or washed-up law enforcement professionals and former prosecutors) all hawking their sad little memoirs.
Not surprisingly, most contributors were downright scathing in their condemnation of Todd's tactics. After all, the video clearly showed a federal agent endangering innocent members of the public by leaping into their car at a set of traffic lights and demanding the driver and their occupants pursue what the public thought was a dangerous terrorist. What they had no way of knowing (because that information was classified) was that it had been a set up to abduct the NCIS agent and that the vehicle's occupants were part of the terrorist cell, NOT innocent civilians.
As time went by, several former FBI agents and a former DA who had been casualties of Gibbs' refusal to play nice with others had joined the discussion. Tom suspected that they knew full well that Caitlin Todd was one of Gibbs' team members since they were particularly mocking about her inability to follow SOP and laid the blame squarely upon her supervisor for not training her adequately. To their credit, even though they were Gibbs' archenemies, none of them publicly outed her, though.
Regrettably, despite the show of solidarity, it didn't take long for Diane Fontaine – a local DC reporter to identify Agent Todd as the agent involved. As a TV journo, she'd covered the MCRT's murder investigation of Commander Farrell, who'd sadly been caught up in a firefight between waring drug dealers last year, so Fontaine was familiar with the team, including Agent Todd. Once it was revealed that Caitlin Todd was an NCIS agent, the razor-sharp knives came out and the commentary turned nasty.
Frankly, Morrow wasn't exactly shocked. Leroy Jethro Gibbs didn't play nice with anyone – not even his fellow NCIS colleagues, hence there were plenty of people happy to put the boot in when he screwed the pooch (and he'd been doing a heap of that this year). Todd also hadn't exactly done herself a lot of favours, either. Especially when it came to her blaming her colleagues for being male chauvinists instead of accepting responsibility when she stuffed up – which to be fair - had been quite frequent.
The fallout of the video which had been captured on some concerned citizen's cell phone meant SECNAV was seriously pissed off with all the negative publicity generated for the agency. Plus, on top of Todd's cockup, he was livid about the furore Gibbs had caused amongst the FBI, CIA, DHS, State Department and Mossad. Morrow had, unfortunately, been forced to endure several interminable and extremely antagonistic telephone calls from SECNAV, the Secretary of Defence and the Attorney General. The trio had demanded that Gibbs be harshly disciplined for ignoring orders to stay away from Haswari's and NOT endanger his undercover mission.
To be honest, Tom found their outrage to be more than a tad hypocritical. As the director, he often tried to discipline Gibbs (who honestly believed he was a law unto himself) only to get told to stand down and not sweat the little stuff. Lectured him that Gibbs was far too important an asset to the agency and the country.
Morrow wasn't entirely sure how a relatively humble ranking supervisory agent had managed to acquire so much political clout. Oh yeah, he'd heard the watercooler gossip that Gibbs had influence because he knew where all the bodies in Washington were buried but Morrow was unconvinced of that. No, he wasn't naïve – he was almost positive that some of those people in positions of power had real skeletons rattling around in their cupboards that they didn't want to be aired in public. Probably more one.
However, the director thought Gibbs' Teflon status (where no shit stuck to him) probably had more to do with the fact that he owed TPTB literally a ton of favours for all his get out of jail free cards. The thing was that Gibbs wasn't exactly a guy who worried about playing by the rules and Tom figured it was inevitable that sooner or later, Gibbs would end up getting called in to clean up some messes for them that were highly questionable.
The director reckoned Jethro would probably be okay with that. After all, with his NCIS Black Ops background, they knew he wouldn't hesitate to get his hands dirty. Still, Tom wondered if there were any lines he wouldn't want to cross – any moral boundaries he wouldn't wish to betray? If there were, then he might have cause to regret all the favours he'd accrued by refusing to play by the rules.
Tom shrugged because, in this instance, it was a moot point. Jethro wouldn't be getting a get-out-of-jail-free card because the general consensus of TPTB was that he'd gone too far this time and needed to be smacked down and smacked down HARD. The AG, SECNAV and the SecDef decreed that for ignoring a direct order by approaching Haswari, Jethro would be suspended without pay for one- calendar month. A possibly worse punishment for the former Marine was to follow. At the end of his month-long suspension, SECNAV was sending him to the NCIS Media Liaison Unit for a further two months of unspecified duties.
Although Gibbs didn't know it yet, the head of the Media Liaison unit had come up with a suitably appropriate assignment for him. They were helping to produce a reality show to promote female recruitment in the Marine Corps. Gibbs was going to be the personal assistant to the star of the show, a former child actor who had a serious substance abuse problem. A judge ordered her to get clean by joining the Marine Corps or go to jail.
The reality show would follow her enlistment into the Corps and boot camp, showcasing not just her but featuring the other recruits, too. Basically, the deal was that if the actor didn't make it through boot camp, she was going to prison to serve out her three- year sentence for drug possession and driving under the influence.
More pertinent for Gibbs, if the child star failed to successfully complete her basic training, he wouldn't be permitted to return to the MCRT. Instead, he would be transferred to a desk job and Morrow was pretty sure that if he tried to resign TPTB would threaten to prosecute him for one or more of his transgression. And to be honest, there were a lot of times when he'd ignored the law so it would be easy to manipulate him because they wanted him at their beck and call but they also wanted him punished.
While it didn't seem like a particularly harsh penalty to impose on him, it was quite cunning and sneaky in his humble opinion. Morrow knew that Gibbs ability to relate to an entitled nineteen-year-old female celebrity who was used to being treated like a princess was minimal if not non-existent. Add to the mix that the celebrity had a history of partying and substance abuse and his patience was going to be stretched to breaking point.
Just quietly, Tom reckoned it was a fifty-fifty chance that Gibbs was going to get his job on the MCRT back again. If he had a hope in Hell of redemption, he was going to need to develop some much-needed tolerance, not to mention some equally needed people skills. Yeah, no – maybe the chance of him returning was more like twenty-five per cent. One thing was certain though, he was not going to be a happy camper!
Gibbs' knocking on his office door and entering his domain interrupted his train of thought. Typical Gibbs! Mere mortals usually waited for his personal assistant to announce their presence and for Tom to invite them to enter, before reporting to him, but Gibbs wasn't fussed about following social rules and just barged on in. It wasn't just social rules, it was any rules, although Gibbs required that other people who worked for him followed his rules, and how hypocritical was that?
As the former Marine marched in, his usual air of superiority wrapped around him like a cloak of a superhero, Morrow wondered if he'd be feeling quite so arrogant when he was on his way out?
Jethro nodded in acknowledgement to Morrow before casting a poisonous looking glare at the television screen. He snorted as a former associate director of the ATF, Brady Wendt was offering his opinion on the video somewhat pompously.
"Commandeering a car which contained civilians in order to carry out the pursuit of a dangerous suspect was an unforgivable lapse of judgement. It was very fortunate the occupants of the vehicle weren't harmed." Wendt said. "Still, with a small agency like Naval Criminal Investigative Service, I'm not all that surprised. They're a bunch of cowboys, they ignore standard operating procedure and they don't play nicely with the other agencies."
"Asshole," Gibbs fumed. "He'd look like a tool if we leaked to the media that his poor innocent civilians were actually Hamas terrorists who abducted my agent and were planning on forcing Marine One down with two Heads of State on board," he growled ferociously.
The director couldn't help smirking. It had not escaped Tom's attention that any criticism of Jethro's team seemed to infuriate him – regardless of whether or not it was warranted. He decided that it was due to him seeing his team as an extension of himself, rather than a genuine concern for his agents.
Morrow smirked. "Not gonna happen, Jethro. Everyone agreed that there was nothing to be gained in announcing how close the terrorists came to bring off what would have been a devastating and highly embarrassing attack. The Secret Service ruled that the story released to the public would be that the FBI took out a group of Columbian drug dealers. One was injured and escaped but we are currently hunting him down, so we protect Ari's cover."
Gibbs huffed in acknowledgement of the harsh truth that the public would freak out if they only knew how often potential security breaches occurred. Stalking over to Tom's top of the range coffee maker (a birthday present from the staff), he poured himself a cup of coffee and swigged a good third of the mug's contents before looking at the director.
Tom gave a sarcastic laugh. "Besides, admitting that Todd was stupid enough to get herself kidnapped by getting into a car with a bunch of terrorists is hardly an endorsement of sound judgement or her competence."
"Cate didn't ask to be abducted, Director – she was set up."
Seeing Gibbs furious expression and knowing how much he hated it when anyone pointed out his agents or himself had, in Gibbs vernacular, screwed the pooch, he pointed to the screen which was showing Agent Todd commandeering the blue Mini Cooper.
" Didn't she?" Tom challenged him. "C'mon, Jethro, no halfway competent professional (especially someone on the POTUS' Secret Service protection team and supposed to be a profiler) should have failed to question why two guys would opt to leave the front seat of a vehicle unoccupied and sit in the back." Seeing the stubborn look on Gibbs' face and the clenching of his fists, Tom said. "No really...what typical red-blooded male with more than an ounce of testosterone would choose to sit in the back seat of a car unless it was a limousine and they are being chauffeured around?"
Gibbs nodded, albeit reluctantly, because, hello... Gibbs was notorious for insisting on driving and if he wasn't driving, he was riding shotgun.
"Does that look like a limo to you, Gibbs? Cuz to me that looks like a Mini Cooper with zero legroom in the back. No male would choose to be cramped up in the back of that tiny car when the front seat was empty. I know damned well that if there was a vacant front seat, I wouldn't have gone to all the effort of climbing over in the back seat and neither would you."
Jethro objected mulishly. "For all she knew, they could have just let a passenger out who was riding in the front seat, Tom."
The long-suffering director refrained from performing an eye roll, but it was extremely tempting. "Maybe, but with such cramped room in the back, most guys would have immediately climbed over and claimed the front seat," Tom stated with certainty.
He got another half-hearted grunt that he took as assent.
"It should have seemed obvious to Agent Todd that she was being set up. A profiler should be highly suspicious that a car just happened to be waiting at the lights when Ari rode by, conveniently unoccupied for her to slip into. Particularly since it contained three males. More importantly, they were three males of Middle Eastern appearance and she was chasing a suspect who she believed to be a Hamas/ Al Qaeda terrorist. Talk about feckless!"
Tom stood up, walking over and pouring himself a cup of coffee and asked. "Were you aware of the sexual attraction between Haswari and Todd?"
Gibbs shrugged. "Asked her why she didn't take him down when she had an opportunity. Said he had kind eyes. I told her not to hesitate if she got the chance a second time – told her that eyes can lie."
Morrow shook his head. "Great profiling," he said ironically, referring to her basing her decision on someone's eyes, before dropping his bombshell. "Well she followed your orders – she didn't hesitate but in this case, she damn well should have." He glared at Gibbs, this was partially his fault for not reigning her in and insisting that she follow protocol.
Shrugging, Morrow said, "It's all academic now. SECNAV wants her removed from the field. He feels she's too much of a liability to the people around her to continue as a field agent." Seeing Gibbs was about to start bellowing his displeasure, he pre-empted him firmly. "Don't bother with your tantrum, Gibbs. There've been way too many screw-ups involving the MCRT and Agent Todd, as you damn well know, but this fiasco was the last straw. She is being transferred, effective immediately to Global Operations, probably to be assigned to Protective Operations or Polygraph Services."
"We'll see about that!" Gibbs growled angrily.
Doing a metaphoric eye-roll, he offered Gibbs some sage advice which would unquestionably be ignored by the pig-headed agent.
"Leave it, Gibbs. You won't win. Not this time. SecDef fully supports SECNAV's decision to reassign her. They said even if she has balls, it isn't enough," he said, referring to Gibbs' rationalisation at the time of why he'd hired an agent with no investigative training to join the premier investigative team.
Tom was almost ready to move on; he needed to deal with Gibbs' blatant disregard of obeying direct orders and shooting Ari Haswari. However, before proceeding, the NCIS director felt compelled to address one rather crucial point which had leapt out at him when he'd read the team's reports.
"Not that it would have ended up changing the overall outcome this time around, but enquiring minds want to know, Gibbs. Where was that famous gut of yours when you really needed it, huh? If you hadn't been so damned obsessed with identifying Haswari, maybe you'd have been more focused, and you wouldn't have ended the call with Agent Todd so prematurely. "
Gibbs gave him a filthy look but didn't answer. Not that Morrow had really expected him to.
"Cate gave you a clue when she called and told you she had food poisoning - saying she ate bad oysters - but DiNozzo and Dr Mallard knew she had tuna salad. If you'd talked to either one and double-checked what she ate for lunch you'd have known that she'd been abducted. Then you could have easily traced her phone and figured out where she was."
Seeing that Gibbs was about to speak and anticipating what he was going to say, he cut him off. "Yes, yes, I know that THIS time it worked out, but that was pure luck. What about the next time one of your agents is under duress? And before you give me the excuse that you aren't psychic, I'll say again...where was your all-powerful gut? You use it to justify not following rules but as far as I can see, it lets you down at least as often as it might help you solve a case...about as often as the statistical chances of any mere mortal might be right or wrong! And more to the point, why haven't you instigated a duress codeword or phrase with the team?"
In some ways, Morrow felt troubled about Caitlin Todd. Despite not being her biggest supporter, often unhappy with her level of competency, he couldn't help wondering how much her impulsive and intemperate behaviour in this situation was due to Jethro's over the top obsessiveness. He'd been stomping around the office for weeks, screaming at his agents to find the terrorist who'd infiltrated their midst and managed to one-up him by escaping.
The MTAC analysts were agog with the bawling out that Gibbs had delivered to DiNozzo for taking an extended lunch break the day that Todd was abducted. Jethro had torn him a new asshole because apparently, DiNozzo didn't seem to know they were AT WAR and he wasn't taking the situation seriously enough.
Strange that! Tom wasn't aware of the fact that they were AT WAR, either. Obviously, a large part of Tony's job as Gibbs' senior field agent was to read minds, or at least know what his almighty El jefe was thinking. Seemed unfair to get yelled at because of not doing something that he didn't know he was supposed to be doing. Still... according to Agent Balboa, DiNozzo had stayed calm before telling his superior to watch Moby Dick and skipped off as Gibbs nearly stroked out – his blood pressure was so damned high.
Morrow suspected that if Gibbs hadn't been driving his agents so hard, Todd wouldn't have been so desperate to earn his approval that she'd ended up getting herself abducted on national television. However, the truth was that she'd screwed up on numerous occasions. Over the last eight months, Cate had been treated with far more leniency than any of Gibbs' other agents who'd usually got turfed off the team after screwing-up just once. Special Agent Todd might have been hard done by this time, but Morrow wasn't exactly going to be shedding tears at her transfer. She would be far more qualified to work at Global Operations, anyway.
Sighing philosophically, he noticed that Gibbs was looking at him expectantly and he realised he'd been wool-gathering.
"Ya wanted to see me for anything else?" he asked (demanded) in his usual gruff style.
"Yep, I wanted to talk to you about this debacle with Haswari yesterday," Morrow said sternly, delivering a lecture to his belligerent agent but he wasn't sanguine that it would alter his self-righteous mindset.
"I've been fielding calls about the mess you've left for everyone else to clean up. I'm guessing you don't give a flying fuck that Tobias Fornell is totally up Shit Creek because you shot Ari.* His director refused to believe that he didn't know what you had planned, and he's received a formal caution and been suspended for a week, you ass."
He noted sorrowfully that Jethro didn't look at all sorry to learn that he'd hurt Agent Fornell's career, either. If anything, he looked like a sulky teenager. One who believed he knew everything and everyone else knew Jack shit.
"Yeah, well someone had to hold that SOB accountable. He shot a civilian – Gerald didn't sign up to be permanently maimed, plus he killed an HRT agent and wounded four agents. But you all let him get away with it."
Tom sighed. "Look... I don't agree with what Haswari did, even though he was undercover – it was wrong, and I wouldn't have sanctioned it. That said...shooting him as revenge was completely unprofessional and it was incredibly self-centred. "
Seeing Jethro's typical pig-headed expression, his 'I know better' look, Tom became infuriated. "You could have blown his cover – and for all we know, you may well have gotten him killed, you stupid asshat. Particularly by insisting that he meet you here at NCIS."
"Good riddance. He's a complete waste of space. Doubt Gerald or the fibbie's widow will get choked up if he turns up dead."
At times, Tom wondered just how Gibbs had ever managed to attain the rank of gunnery sergeant in the Corps. Most of the time he was little more than a heaving sack-load of testosterone, reacting hormonally to his environment instead of using his brain cells. Shaking his head, the director couldn't fathom how Jethro earned the almost dog-like esteem of his agents.
"That may well be true, but even if Haswari was killed by Al Qaeda because they decided he was a mole, that still wouldn't change what occurred the day of the siege when five men were wounded, and one was killed. Nothing will undo what happened.
"However, what do you think his victims would say if they learnt that the next potential 9/11 terrorist attack in the US could have been averted if we'd had someone undercover. BUT because of your assholery and need for vengeance, innocent people were killed?
"I think they'd probably say that they'd rather that Haswari had gotten a free pass if it meant that more innocent people were injured or killed, and more families lost loved their ones. I believe that they would prefer that some good could come out of siege with Ari Haswari. I'm pretty sure if it was me, I would prefer some good to come out of it than have to suffer in vain."
Gibbs half shrugged, unwilling to admit that he might ever (God forbid) be wrong. Looking anything but contrite he growled, "If you're gonna give me another formal caution, let's do it. Get it over and done with, Director," he said indifferently, a smug little smirk tugging at the corners of his mouth. He knew that he could do as he damn well pleased and TPTB would let him off the hook.
Tom fought hard to restrain his schadenfreude in anticipating what was to come. As the director of the agency, it was not proper of him to enjoy delivering a smackdown – or at least to be seen to enjoy it. "Oh no, there isn't going to be a formal caution, Agent Gibbs."
The senior supervisory agent first looked surprised, then smug and Morrow couldn't help feeling more than a little bit happy to be able to burst his bubble. "After consultation with SECNAV, Secretary of Defence, the AG and the Secretary of State, I've been instructed to inform you that you are suspended from duty for one calendar month, with forfeiture of pay," Morrow stated formally.
Seeing Gibbs shocked expression with a sense of satisfaction, Tom shook his head, "You've gone too far this time, Special Agent Gibbs – they're really pissed off at you."
He looked at the gobsmacked agent and delivered the coup de grace po-faced although inside he was grinning. "At the end of your one-month suspension, you will be TAD reporting to the NCIS Public Affairs Office for a two-month assignment. Pending the successful completion of that assignment, you will be permitted to return to fieldwork in three months."
Looking at the apoplectic looking man in front of him he reiterated, "The Powers That Be decided you've crossed the line once too often. They said to tell you and I quote, that you need to be reminded that you aren't a Tin-Pot Fucking God!"
Coda: 24 hours later
Jenny Shepard was wandering around the food market in Manama searching for the ingredients to make Shrimp Gumbo and Key Lime Pie. Jenn couldn't believe she'd lost the bet with Ziva David and now was going to be slaving away in a hot kitchen for hours, cooking at the safe house. How could that crazy ex-Secret Service bitch be so God-damned dumb as to get into a car with three unknown males to chase a terrorist?
Clearly, Ari was right about her attraction for him – she was so damned eager to jump his bones that her hormones overrode her brain cells. That's if she had a brain to start with.
And what the devil was Gibbs thinking? Why would he recruit a clearly ineffectual agent to work with him? The Gibbs she knew was a perfectionist, always pushing his people that little bit more, demanding an ounce more effort from them even after they'd given their all. Even when they were the best of the best - because he didn't tolerate mediocrity.
It wasn't in Leroy Jethro Gibbs nature to ever be satisfied.
It totally didn't make sense!
Jenny remembered how smug Ziva had been when she got off the phone to her brother a few hours ago, announcing that she couldn't wait to taste Shepard's shrimp Gumbo and Key Lime Pie.
"Todd entered the car and allowed herself to be abducted," she'd squeaked in astonishment.
Ziva nodded. "It went off like a clock."
"Like clockwork, Zee." Jenny automatically corrected her partner as David shrugged indifferently.
"So is Todd alright?"
Ziva nodded, an odd expression on her face. "Oh, she is more than alright, Jenn. Crowing that she was right and everyone else was wrong about Ari."
"And the POTUS and the Israeli Prime Minister are safe too?"
"Yes, they are safe, and all of the terrorists have been rounded up or killed," Ziva reported exultantly.
"And that Swedish bitch – Mossad has set her up to take the blame for the failure of their mission?"
"Indeed. Ari shot her and concealed the money and documents in her apartment for Al Qaeda to find. She was not as smart as she thought." Ziva replied spitefully. " So, all that is left is for the victorious to enjoy the spoils of war, which in this case is the meal that you owe me," she taunted Jenny smugly.
Sighing with irritation, Jenny started making a list of the supplies needed to fulfil the wager she'd made... stupidly as it turned out. As she compiled the list, the NCIS agent thought about what Ziva had said about Caitlin Todd.
What did you mean by Agent Todd is more than alright, Zee? She had to be traumatised by her abduction? At the very least she's feeling mortified about being so stupid to walk into such an obvious trap?" Jenny maintained, knowing if she was in Todd's shoes, she would be absolutely humiliated.
Ziva chuckled. "On the contrary, she is too busy feeling pardoned – this is the right word – yes? She's diligently telling everyone she was right all along about Ari being good and everyone else was wrong."
"Vindicated. Plus, now he is her shiny armoured knight who saved her from Marta the Wicked Witch, who was going to kill her when she refused to cooperate."
Jenny snorted. "Sounds like a honking big case of Stockholm Syndrome, to me. For all she knew, he could have been lying about being Mossad," Jenny observed cynically. "So, what's with the cryptic comment and the weird look when I asked about her welfare?"
Ziva smirked. "The base for Hamas cell was out in the wilds of rural Virginia. Ari sent his minions off to die at the hands of the FBI and then killed Marta. Once he had Todd inform the Secret Service about the plot to abduct the POTUS they had a lot of time on their hands before the FBI arrived to secure the site. Ari and Todd engaged in what you Americans quaintly call afternoon delight."
She looked smug. "Since Mossad trains its operatives to be highly skilled and creative lovers," she flashed a bedroom look at her NCIS partner, "as you can attest, Jenn, Todd was one very satisfied agent."
"They're together? As they're in a relationship?" Jenny asked, disbelievingly.
"No, Jenn it was a one-time fuck – what is it you call it?"
"A one-night stand, Zee."
"Yes, that is it – although it occurred before the sun had set... so technically it was a one-day stand. And strictly speaking, although Ari is skilled in the art of sex in a vast array of positions," she boasted, "As are all Mossad agents, they weren't only standing up. They were also lying down too... on the couch and on the picnic bench, and out under the trees..."
"Okay, Zee I get the picture – they were humping like a pair of randy rabbits all over the place." Jenny replied, interrupting the catalogue of locales where sex had taken place, feeling a bit like a voyeur. She hoped that Ziva didn't share their lovemaking exploits with Ari or her Mossad colleagues.
"So, it was once off sex? It was an I thought I was going to die and when I didn't, I had life-affirming sex with the guy who I believed was a dangerous terrorist?" Jenny asked hopefully. "And she's realised that her actions were hasty and told him it was a mistake and it wouldn't happen again?"
"No. That it not the way it happened. Todd wanted to continue their sexual liaison, but he told her that it would be too dangerous." Ziva said dismissively.
When Jenny looked askance at her partner's mocking tone she shrugged.
"Ari said that she was too vanilla, too clingy, too bossy and not very smart. And the deal smasher is that he thinks she is way too political and opinionated which he says is a real turnoff. He believes that females should stay out of politics," Ziva said matter-of-factly.
"Breaker, it's a deal-breaker, Ziva," she corrected her without thinking.
Jenny remembered from the dossiers they wrote, that Agent Todd was a strident feminist, outspoken, passionate, intractable and totally convinced she was always right. They wouldn't be compatible as a couple, Shepard agreed mentally.
Her Mossad partner nodded dispassionately. "A deal breaker. I think his time with her was fun because he fantasized about having sex with a fictional character and he thought Caitlin looked like her, but he realised they weren't compatible." Ziva told Jen bluntly."
Ari stood outside the apartment block on Wisconsin Avenue NW and looked up at the window which he knew belonged to Special Agent Caitlin Todd. Yesterday he'd vowed to walk away after they'd jumped each other's bones. Killing Marta had made his libido spike massively and after Caitlin had informed the Secret Service about the plot to shoot down Marine One by his terrorist cell there was time to kill. And after he informed her that he was a Mossad mole her attitude towards him had done a one-eighty-degree turnabout.
Ari immediately noted her pupils were blown wide with desire. He also observed other additional signals: licking her lips, thrusting out her breasts, fluttering her eyelashes and the coquettish hair flicks as he flirted right back at her. He picked it up where he'd left off during the siege at NCIS and then earlier that day when he was on the motorcycle at the lights, performing wheelies down the DC streets, like a peacock preening for its mate.
With Marta lying dead after he shot her, and the rest of the cell about to engage with the Secret Service and the FBI, they had time and the inclination to burn off their excess of adrenaline. They both knew it would be sometime before the LEOs arrived at the rural property to verify his story and to debrief him. It was inevitable that they'd ended up have fiery, rough and passionate sex.
There was no denying that he'd found it highly enjoyable and he found her physically appealing, she looked and acted a lot like the bossy opinionated Prue Halliwell in Charmed. Although, sadly her intellectual capabilities were somewhat limited, not unlike the beautiful but clueless and now very dead Marta.
To be honest, he wasn't sure why the cheesy show about a trio of witches had attracted him. After all, it was about three sisters and he was a guy. Weird, since he wasn't exactly sentimental because with his upbringing in Gaza that was a luxury its residents couldn't really afford. Yet there was something about the relationship between the three aesthetically appealing siblings that spoke to him – soothed some yearning in his own psyche, something which had most definitely been missing in his own childhood. Yes, he had siblings... well half-siblings, and they'd been the apples of Eli's eye.
While he was the bastard son – the bastard half Palestinian son who'd never be good enough to bear the David name.
He was the bastard son whose whole raison d'etre was to be a mole and kill the enemies of Israel.
He pushed those thoughts away and focused on a less contentious topic – that of the feisty former Secret Service agent. Caitlin was supposed to be a highly trained psychological profiler yet failed to recognise when she'd been manipulated. Had she never heard about playing good terrorist bad terrorist? Bassam smacked her around and then he'd stepped in with a few small acts of kindness, releasing her from the handcuffs, giving her some ice for her split lip, allowing her to slap Bassam, earning her gratitude, even if she wouldn't admit it.
Then a bit later, he saved her life by stopping Marta when she'd wanted to shoot her. Along with his consummation of alcohol (which a fanatical Muslim extremist wouldn't do) those small acts of kindness had very effectively planted the seeds for Stockholm Syndrome to germinate and flower. Caitlin was a patriot, so she wouldn't have acted upon her burgeoning feelings for him but once he'd killed Marta and allowed the American to save her President and the Israeli Prime Minister, she was his. Mind, body and soul.
He smirked, conceitedly; he was accustomed to having beautiful women throw themselves at him. Like Marta, he seemed to attract beautiful females like a moth to a flame. Caitlin was so transparent, and she wanted him.
Although he'd enjoyed their time together, Ari found her to be bossy, insular and reactionary, both in and out of bed, which was amusing in small doses – but would also be tiresome in larger quantities. Sadly, she was also parochial and sexually repressed – her appetites were decidedly vanilla and well... he was not. She'd had conniptions when he'd suggested she perform oral sex – her idea of being naughty was riding his dick.
Yes, he'd enjoyed their encounter very much, but he doubted she could satisfy him on an ongoing basis. He'd told her that it was too dangerous for him to see her again because he was undercover, and she was a federal agent. It was substantially the truth, but he also knew that if she had rocked his world, he would have found some way to be safe and to have her too.
He'd no intention of contacting her again. That was before his encounter with that bloody arrogant arsehole (as his British friends would say) who'd shot him because he needed to have the last word. The man must have a very small penis!
If Haswari was a kinder man, a gentler man, he would feel sorry for the SOB.
But he wasn't a kind nor a gentle man
So, he didn't!
And today was a brand-new day. Here he was outside Caitlin's place, feeling the need to let off some adrenaline. Maybe he' 'd amuse himself by suggesting they indulge in a little backdoor sex... just to watch her flip out and get all prudish. He chuckled, amused at the thought of Catholic Cate.
So anyway, it might be true that he was very tense, and sex was a good way to relieve his anger but there might also be an element of revenge in seeking out Caitlin. He knew that Gibbs would have a stroke if he found out about him and his female agent, who he viewed proprietorially. Even if the former Marine never learnt that he and Caitlin, in his words had made love, Haswari could secretly gloat over the fact that he would hate it and have a fit if he ever did find out.
Just like his father would one day pay for creating him, with the sole intention of making a spy and assassin, he vowed that Gibbs would rue deciding that his pride and egotism took precedent over the long-term labour and resources which had been poured to the undercover mission to infiltrate Hamas. He knew, thanks to the dossiers Mossad had supplied, that Gibbs lived with crippling guilt over being deployed in Iraq when his wife and daughter were killed.
The former Marine's Achilles heel was women and children in peril. So, if he wanted to get back at Leroy Jethro Gibbs, targeting women he cared about was the most effective way to exact revenge.
Of course, any plans Ari had for retribution would be on hold for the foreseeable future. He had to return to the Middle East immediately before the Al Qaeda operatives decided he was a mole or had turned rogue, determining he was too much of a threat and eliminated him.
Haswari shifted his sling to reposition his shoulder more comfortably where Gibbs had shot him. Grimacing in pain, he thought about his encounter with Special Agent Leroy Gibbs at NCIS yesterday. He knew that Mossad (i.e. Deputy Director Eli David) was furious at him because he'd agreed to meet Gibbs and was questioning his motives for the meeting. The truth was that after encountering the infamous Leroy Jethro Gibbs up close and personal during the siege, Ari recognised this man as a predator, a zealot. An individual as obsessive in his own way as the man who'd deliberately fertilised his Palestinian mother with his 'special' Israeli sperm to create an Arab sleeper agent for Mossad three decades ago.
He'd decided that just like Eli David, Gibbs would never give up tracking him down like bloodhound, just because he was ordered by his superiors to leave Ari alone. The man was all about winning...winning whatever the cost.
So, Haswari decided it was better to confront the American and get it over and done with, At least then he wouldn't be continually looking over his shoulder, wondering if Gibbs was still after him. Never knowing when he would strike.
Okay, so that was Mossad Officer Haswari rationale for the confrontation with Leroy Jethro Gibbs. It was the truth and it was completely valid. However, he was willing to admit (if only to himself) that a part of his meeting with Gibbs was that in lieu of him being free to give his sperm donor a piece of his mind, the NCIS agent would serve as a substitute for Eli David. One day, he would make the bastard-maker who impregnated his mother rue the day he'd sired him...but not yet.
The encounter between the two men unfolded fairly predictably. It wasn't surprising that Gibbs wanted to revisit the scene of their previous clash since it was here on his home territory where Gibbs had come off second best. Hardly surprising when you understood the man that he would want a do-over, and he also didn't expect that Gibbs would play by the rules laid down by the FBI and CIA. He'd poured over Gibbs psychological profile supplied by Mossad, much of the data and the analysis supplied by Special Agent Jenny Shepard who was working with Ziva. He trusted the file mainly because not only had she worked with him at NCIS, she had also been his protégé and his lover.
For strategic reasons, he'd had arrived before Gibbs, deciding it was prudent to present as small a target as possible. Tritely, his nemesis chose as his opening salvo in their confrontation to unzip the body bag and dramatically reveal the mortal remains of Marta, the femme fatale...the Mata Hari of the Hamas team.
"She was beautiful," Gibbs stated as he stared at her.
"Very," Ari agreed as he sat on a chair off to the side of the room. Beautiful and utterly deadly. A true zealot. Did her beauty matter to Gibbs? Would he lament her death if she was ugly or not white?
"Did you make love to her?" Gibbs asked, even if he already knew the answer.
Aside from rolling his eyes, he didn't deign to respond.
"And then blew her brains out," Gibbs added, censoriously.
Shrugging, Ari told him, "She would do the same to me. It was true – if DiNozzo had met up with the gorgeous blonde Swede as planned, she would have delighted in putting a slug in his cerebellum.
Next came the clichéd question, "Why do you do this?" The equivalent to the what's a nice guy like you doing in a job like this question, except obviously, he didn't think Ari was a nice guy.
Haswari gave a mental snort at the American's banality. "Same reason you do."
"No, I don't think so." Gibbs looked at him stonily, not appreciating the comparison and yet both were sanctioned killers. Did Jethro really think that Haswari didn't have Eli David's express approval to shoot Americans during the siege? He'd advised him that killing was an effective way to convince Al Qaeda he was the genuine article.
Knowing that this was his chance to poke the bear, he told the NCIS agent, "Then you're lying to yourself."
He stood up and approach the body bag. The irony not lost on him that he'd previously smuggled himself into NCIS in a body bag by pretending to be a cadaver. He had no doubt that if Gibbs had one wish it was that he wanted to see Haswari leave in a body bag, too. Dead!
Ignoring Ari's accusation about why he did what he did, Gibbs asked him what he planned to do next. "You go back to the Middle East, you tell them Marta was Mossad and she blew the op?"
Ari replied with a simple, "Yes."
Of course, Gibbs felt impelled to share his opinion even if it was unsolicited. He was just like Eli!
"Two op failures in a row. I'd ex your ass if you worked for me."
Ari smiled because, to be honest, he didn't give a fuck what Gibbs thought; there was no way that he'd ever work for him – Gibbs was too much like his sperm donor, the arrogant self-righteous prick. You infiltrate Al Qaeda and Hamas cells, Gibbs and THEN I might give a damn about what you would do or think.
Instead, he stated ironically, "People who blow themselves apart to kill their enemy have lower expectations."
"How do you sell Marta as a double agent?" Gibbs wanted to know.
"I heroically evaded the FBI infidels. They know the effort I put into this operation - buying Smokey Sams, kidnapping Agent Todd so I could identify Marine One. And when they search Marta's apartment, they will find money and documents traceable to Mossad. Hamas will believe me. Al Qaeda's more wary."
He shrugged. Marta was female and she was not one of them, both of which made it easier for them to distrust her – unlike Ari who was born in Gaza. Honestly, did the NCIS agent really think that Daddy Dearest aka Eli David and Mossad would go to all the time and effort of placing a mole into Hamas and not have a scapegoat ready to be sacrificed when the going got tough? Harm minimisation and contingency plans were Standard Operating Procedure for undercover ops!
In this case, they'd known for weeks about the plot to abduct Bush and Sharon and obviously, they couldn't let it go ahead. The plan, right from the start had been about showcasing how dedicated he was to the cause; to demonstrate how far he was prepared to go to ensure the success of the mission. Marta had been identified early on as being key to him earning their trust, using her as a scapegoat when Ari sabotaged their plan. It obviously had taken time to come up with the proof she was a mole.
"They don't believe you, you're dead."
Ah, thank-you so much for stating the bleeding obvious.
This little gem of wisdom was certainly well worth attending this delightful get-together. Was Gibbs deliberately trying to psyche him out?
Bah...what a supercilious dolt!
"Yes. And if they do believe in me, I may learn what they plan as the next 9/11." He retorted acidly. "Would you risk losing that opportunity over pride?"
"It's not pride," Gibbs insisted.
Hah – just like Eli David, pretending he was all holier-than-thou and was only concerned about good versus evil. Yet how prideful was it for someone to breed and raise the perfect Mossad spy like a prize bull. Well, he was tired of putting up with their arrogant crap. He let Gibbs have it, deciding that he'd spent enough time and energy dealing with this self-deluded fool.
"If not pride, then what? Love of country? Sense of duty? I'm sure those exist in you. But what burns is pride, my friend."
And in you too, my dear Abba!
The NCIS agent he could see, was a legend in his own mind, remained silent as Haswari prepared to leave. He'd let Gibbs have his say and he was done.
"Shalom." Ari farewelled the American.
They both turned towards the automatic doors to exit the Autopsy Suite and Ari was feeling a sense of relief that they had only come to metaphoric blows. He let his guard down, unwisely because Gibbs suddenly raised his sidearm to Ari's shoulder and fired.
As he fell to the floor in pain, Gibbs explained smugly, "I just wanted to help you convince Al Qaeda."
Gibbs left him on the floor and walked out in triumph, believing he'd gotten the last word. He didn't realise that all he'd achieved was to go from being an annoyance, a substitute father figure to becoming a legitimate enemy in his own right to the hate-filled son of Mossad's associate director, Eli David.
Ari couldn't help laughing hysterically at the thought of Gibbs giving a fuck about his welfare. Pride and arrogance – just like his sperm donor.
*In Season 2 Episode 5 - The Bone Yard, Fornell tells Gibbs that one of the reasons why TPTB suspect he is the corrupt cop is because he set up the meeting with Gibbs and Ari and believed he'd done so, knowing that Gibbs was going to shoot him.
Update on my stories: As I said, I haven't been writing much in the last 12 months or so, but I'd signed up for the Quantum Bang last year. Regrettably, I couldn't settle down enough to write the fix-it story I'd wanted. As the time for the first draft submission approached, rather than pull out, I dusted off a partially written fix-it story (luckily, a good many of my stories are fix-its) and forced myself to write. The story had been sitting around for a couple of years on my hard drive and it was approx. 35,000 when I started writing seriously in Feb this year. As the minimum length for the challenge was 50,000 words, I figured I could probably manage to write 15,000, even with the massive case of writer's block I had but the story quickly got out of control. Finally, complete it was over 142,000 words.
So, after I recovered from churning out so many words in such a short space of time, I tried to use the momentum to push through and get back into finishing my WIPs – particularly working on my Albatross aka Rising to the Bait which I will post when it's fully completed. I have approx. 30, 000 words finished so far and now that I've written this last tag in the There's Always Tom Morrow Series for season 1, I'll be returning to RTTB and get it done too.
The good news about TATM tags is that for the second series - season 2, I already have seven tags drafted plus another which has been plotted. Unfortunately, they aren't in sequential order – they are seven tags where the plots jumped out at me and begged to be written. Reading them now, it is interesting to see how much these tags have evolved and got progressively more complicated as time has gone by. Well, that's my progress report. Hope you enjoyed the last tag in Season 1.