What neither of them realized was that it didn't matter what they did, because they were in a government building there's always cameras. That alone time wasn't just lucky, it was planned. And finally, Gibbs knew a little bit more than he should.
Moments later Ziva had realized that two certain alchemists were missing and immediately embarked on a search of the building for them. It didn't take long to find the two, as they were heading back to the bullpen on their own. They were still talking quietly to each other when Ziva approached but immediately they silenced upon seeing the female agent.
"What were you two doing?"
"Nothing," Edward crossed his arm across his chest, he wasn't going to tell.
"They were just talking about how they know that a particular church is where the cult is located."
Edward blanched as he turned towards Gibbs' voice from behind.
"How the hell does this geezer know?" Edward's head lurched forward as Gibbs slapped the back of the young alchemist's head. Gibbs didn't take kindly to being called old.
"Cameras," Gibbs said simply, walking past Ziva into the bullpen.
"Good job, Ziva," he added a moment later. Ziva cocked her head to the side in confusion, not particularly sure why she deserved praise for momentarily losing the two alchemists.
Mustang was shocked, but he didn't let it show. He was still trying to wrap his head around this technology. Whereas Edward, on the other hand, had gotten more used to the technology. Yet, Ed was still surprised that technology went to that extent. It was almost as if upon entering the building Edward and Mustang, or anyone else, lost all privacy naturally allotted to them.
McGee and DiNozzo stopped their own conversation as Gibbs entered the bullpen, "The Methodist church is our location."
"And how do you know that, boss?" McGee asked hesitantly.
"Ask our friends over there," Gibbs motioned to Ed and Mustang, just entering the bullpen with Ziva.
Both of them put on their best poker faces but neither of them really wanted to divulge information. They had both concluded it would be best to keep NCIS out of the matter for now, and just let them clean up the mess after the cult leader alchemist was done with. Apparently that wouldn't be the case.
After the moment of silence, in which the alchemists refused to talk, Gibbs sighed and instead filled everyone else in. What he had gotten from the alchemists was that there was a cover up on the outside of the church, and that there was a basement entry to, what Gibbs and the alchemists assumed, was the cult entrance. Not only that, but some members had tattoos in the palm of their hands, which was an easy identifier. From what Mustang had seen though, and divulged to Edward, it looked like most the members were homeless themselves or at least purposely tried to look it to fit in with the soup kitchen set up.
"I knew there was something off!" Ziva exclaimed.
Edward and Mustang had everything out in the open, well, pertaining to the case at hand. There were still some details that each didn't need to share, like how a certain blond alchemist lost his limbs or how the brigadier general was previously blind. Everything case related was in the open, and Mustang and Edward didn't like it.
"What now?" Edward asked, annoyance radiating from the alchemist. He was angry about his privacy being violated, in whatever world this was apparently the lack of privacy was normal.
"We investigate. DiNozzo and McGee will go in."
DiNozzo's eyes lit up, he was getting an undercover job. He was going into a cult! Well, it wasn't a good thing, of course, just interesting. Anyways, the NCIS agent was excited about it. Whereas the other agent, not so much.
"Hey! What about me?" Edward blurted out. It annoyed Edward that he didn't get to take part in the investigation, but also he needed to go in. This was why he was in this world, not to sit around and let some overbearing NCIS agents take over.
Mustang cleared his throat before adding, "Agent McGee was already at the church, as well as the other agent and myself."
Gibbs sighed, it was obvious he didn't want to send Edward in, but he knew he needed one of the alchemists in there. They knew more about alchemy, obviously, than anyone. Edward would know about the situation better than anyone, besides Mustang. But Gibbs couldn't send Mustang in, he couldn't risk the alchemist getting recognized and ruining the operation.
"DiNozzo and Edward will go in."
"Haha!" Edward cheered, starting to rub his small victory in the Colonel's face.
"Ziva and Mustang will provide support and surveillance."
Edward stopped gloating and Mustang shot the alchemist his own gloating glance.
"If I'm to support I want my gloves," Mustang stated.
"He's a germaphobe," Ziva reminded.
"That was Fullmetal's lie."
"Then why?" Gibbs asked.
"For alchemy," Roy replied casually.
"You don't need alchemy for this."
"If I'm going to provide back up then yes, I will."
"Surveillance first, back up if needed."
"Still, there's a chance Fullmetal will screw it up."
Mustang mentally jumped for joy. On the outside he simply had the mask of a small smile. Finally, he'd get his gloves back.
"Oh! Hi Gibbs! What'cha need?"
"I need that pair of gloves that was found with our survivor."
"Can do! But, eh, there might be a small... tiny…kinda large.. problem," the forensic analyst answered, taking her hand off the phone and resting it between her shoulder and ear as she took a giant sip of her Caf-Pow.
"What is it?"
"Well, I was doing this test, to, you know-"
"I don't know Abs," Gibbs curtly said.
"Uhm, to test the blood on the gloves and well, I didn't know what the substance was making the design on one of the gloves but I assumed it was like one of those cheap plastic materials made for costume shops, but anyways I was testing blood and long story short I might've accidentally destroyed one of them or part of it at least," Abby took another giant sip of her caffeine drink, finally setting it down. She didn't mean to destroy the glove, but it looked like costume fabric. The analyst knew better, she knew that she knew better, but Abby had just spaced.
"Bring them both anyways." Gibbs hung up.
Abby entered the bullpen as confidently as she could, but she felt horrible about destroying the glove. She didn't know anyone would want them again, so when the chemicals ate up the fabric she wasn't too broken up about it. Sure, she messed it up and she felt guilty about it. A main principle is not destroying evidence and that's what she did. The glove wasn't totally destroyed though, just a giant hole on the top of the hand and about half a missing finger. Also whatever design was on the glove was completely gone. Abby had only messed up one glove while the other was perfectly fine, she was glad the mistake wasn't repeated. She made sure not to repeat it.
"Gibbs! Hey Gibbs! I brought the gloves...-ish."
"Give them to our survivor, Mustang, over here."
"Oh, ok." Abby saw the survivor, he was in the NCIS sweats. Considering she had his blood soaked pajamas for analysis it was expected he'd still be in the NCIS issued sweats. She handed the gloves to the survivor, the non-hole one on top.
"So your name is Mustang? Like the horse? Cool. My name is Abby, I'm the forensic analyst."
What Mustang saw in front of him was a very, very, dark girl in pigtails. Mustang didn't know it was possible, or socially acceptable, to dress in all black with a tiny skirt. Her lab coat indicated she was a scientist, but Mustang wasn't sure what a forensic analyst was. Not to mention the title seemed to indicate she wasn't a scientist but some sort of analyst.
Abby caught the man in front of her staring at her skirt and resisted the urge to slap him. "Hello? I'm up here?"
Mustang immediately looked up into the eyes of the analyst, "Brigadier General Mustang, and you are?"
Abby rolled her eyes, he was too distracted to catch her name, "Abby, Abby Sciuto. Forensic analyst. Oh, hi Edward! How are you doing?" Abby addressed Edward, having not seen the boy in awhile.
Edward heard what Abby had said but his attention was towards Mustang's gloves. The general had just put the first one on and was staring in utter shock at the second one. Ed knew what Abby does as the forensic analyst from his short stay in the lab, so he figured Abby was the culprit of the glove mishap. He didn't think she did it purposely, probably by accident, but he knew the Colonel wasn't happy.
"Abby, you might want to go back to the lab," Edward said hesitantly, hinting towards the Colonel and his moment of shock.
"Oh," Abby replied, receiving the message, "Alright, later Gibbs!" Abby scurried off to her lab. She promised herself she'd apologize when Mustang had calmed down, just from the look on his face when she left she could tell there was a slow building shock and anger.
"What the hell happened to my glove?"
Gibbs shrugged, he'd let Abby take care of it. Edward chose to stay quiet, he wouldn't throw Abby under the bus. McGee, DiNozzo, and Ziva weren't sure what actually happened.
Mustang was shocked at first, and the shock turned to confusion, then eventually to anger. He looked very angry on the outside, his poker face breaking, but in reality he wasn't too upset. As long as he had at least one glove he was fine. It was just inconvenient.
"So, when are me and the kid going?" DiNozzo asked, turning attention away from the shocked alchemist.
Mustang had gotten over the glove by the time he and Ziva were stationed in the car outside the church. The soup kitchen was still happening when the two had arrived. They parked a good distance away from the church, it was still in sight and close enough if they needed to run in for backup but was far enough away they wouldn't cause too much suspicion if they just sat there. They had dropped off DiNozzo and Edward a block away from the church as to not raise suspicion when the two arrived.
DiNozzo and Edward had changed into more appropriate clothes. DiNozzo wore a big, navy blue sweatshirt and a pair of two-sizes-too-big ripped up jeans with a belt barely hanging on with a pair of flip flops. DiNozzo's hair was overly gelled, making it look way too greasy. Edward wore a dark red zip-up hoodie and black, hole-filled, jeans with ratty sneakers. Edward wore a red snow glove over his automail hand and if anyone asked it was just a horribly disfigured, totally real, hand. The blond's hair was down, and not in a braid. To ease the color of his bright golden locks DiNozzo had taken handfuls of dirt and mixed it into Ed's hair. The blond, now a very dirty blond, had asked why this was necessary. DiNozzo's answer was that his hair looked professionally dyed gold and it wouldn't fit with Edward's cover. Edward just figured the agent wanted to purposely throw dirt. The two were a sight to see, and Mustang had laughed when he first saw Edward looking like he did. Ziva also had her laugh in when she saw DiNozzo.
Upon entering the church everyone's heads turned to the two new people. In that single instant the heads turned, they immediately turned away. Some of the people wondered who the newbies were, others ignored them. DiNozzo led Edward to the food line, they'd eat and talk with some of the homeless, hopefully regulars, and then see about that secret entrance.
When serving Edward food most of the volunteers gave Edward a look of pity, most wondering how a kid got to be homeless. The volunteers knew not to ask questions but they all were curious and Edward could tell. DiNozzo on the other hand was served normally, no one second guessed him or thought anything else than a homeless man. Both Edward and DiNozzo had food piled high on the flimsy cardboard tray. They had their choice of bread, DiNozzo chose the cinnamon roll while Edward chose plain white bread. They were served a large portion of soup and a hearty meat, which neither of the men knew really what kind of meat it was, and a fruit and vegetable. Later they were told they could come up again and choose a dessert item. They went in opposite directions, thinking it better to separate and get more information than to sit together and hear the same thing.
Edward sat with a group of younger looking adults, they looked no older than thirty.
"Ah, a newbie," one of them, the only female of the group, said.
"How old are ya?" The man to her left, a bigger male with scruff, asked.
"Old enough," Edward replied curtly. DiNozzo had told Edward a little about getting into the role, and one thing Edward remembered was that the newbies weren't as truthful or as trusting as those who return regularly.
"Ah, he's a shy one! Ain't he?" said the thin man Edward sat next to.
"Who's a shy one?" asked a younger looking boy who was just sitting down on the other side of Ed.
"This new kid!" said the only female.
"What's your name kid?" asked the one who just sat down.
"I'm Joan," said the woman, "this guy to my left is Carl and the guy to your left is Richard."
"You can call me Rich," the thin man laughed and shot Edward a wink.
Edward took a long look at all the people he sat with. The one who just sat down, Sam, looked younger than eighteen, which shocked Edward. He was a small kid, with bony limbs and loose fitting clothes. He had bright green eyes and surprisingly clean black hair. The woman of the group also had green eyes and black hair, but her hair was much greasier. The two had similar facial structures and both wore clothes too big for their small bodies. She looked older than him though, in her early twenties. Edward figured they were siblings. The thin man next to Edward, Rich, was much thinner than the previous, he looked like he had a green, sickly tint to his skin. His brown hair was as wispy and the tips reaching down to his mid back. The bigger man, Carl, with the scruff, had thick blond hair, quite the opposite of the thinner man. He seemed like the healthier of the two and was smiling the entire time Edward had been sitting.
"How old are you?" Sam asked.
"Asked and answered!" joked Rich.
"Old enough," Edward replied, again.
"Let him be," Sam huffed, "I know the feeling, my sis and I were the same way when we first started coming."
"How long has this place been running?"
"It's a fairly new place," Joan answered, "Just a couple of months, ever since some new guy bought the church he let the volunteers come and have the soup kitchen."
Joan gave Edward a sideways glance, Ed could tell she was getting curious about this line of questioning, "Yeah, some guy everyone calls 'Father,' an old priest or monk or something, never did that religion thing, so I wouldn't know. Anyways, he fixed up the place and let volunteers come in for the kitchen just with the condition the basement was off limits."
Sam smiled, "Must be a good guy."
Edward doubted that.
"Anyways, who was your friend?" asked Carl, motioning towards DiNozzo. DiNozzo didn't see the pointing, as he was conversing with a group of four women.
"Oh, no one important. Just… some womanizer who directed me here."
Joan wrinkled her nose, "Ew, we don't want them here. We have enough problems already."
Joan seemed to give Edward the suspicious look again before explaining, "Well the government is trying to shut the place down. Apparently something doesn't fit code or whatever. Some agency was here early, I didn't recognize them though."
The conversation seemed to stop there as Edward started eating. Upon Edward's first bite of bread something clicked, and immediately he ravenously tore apart his meal. When was the last he'd eaten? He didn't know.
"So was that guy your father?"
Edward spat out his soup in surprise, "W-what?"
Sam shrugged, "Sometimes we tend to disassociate ourselves from family."
"No. No! That guy is not my father, nope, never!"
"So ladies, how we doin'?"
All of the ladies gave DiNozzo a dirty look, "You're new?"
"As new as this sweatshirt," DiNozzo joked.
"Oh? You been here awhile then? All two months it's been goin' on?" Another lady asked.
"Since the start! Just been gone for awhile, now I'm back."
"That isn't all two months," one of the ladies replied, pushing up her circular glasses.
"Ya got me! I just came back with a friend over there," DiNozzo pointed at Edward who had just started eating.
The eyes of all the women got big, "Aw! How could a boy like that end up here!"
DiNozzo shook his head slowly and sadly, playing the part.
"He should see Father! Maybe he could bless the poor boy!" One of the ladies said ecstatically. The one with circular glasses was the only one who seemed to disagree but she didn't say anything out loud. DiNozzo noticed she looked a bit nicer than the other ladies here, she wore a long black skirt with a nicer looking, plain, v-neck shirt. Her glasses looked old though, possibly they didn't fit her prescription anymore as DiNozzo noted her squinting every once in awhile.
"You definitely haven't been here from the beginning," circle glasses said, shaking her head, "He's the one who bought the church. The previous owner was some washed up navy guy that suddenly turned uber religious. Bought a church and refused to sell it and let it go to shit. Father bought the church and helped established a place for the kitchen, plus he cleaned up the church. Even though he did all that Father's still no better, or less crazy."
"Riley!" Hissed one of the ladies, the others gasping in surprise.
Circle glasses, now named Riley, shrugged, "He's a crackpot scientist who believes in magic. Everyone only calls him Father because he bought a damn church."
"He told us to! He used to be a…?" the woman couldn't remember what Father used to be.
"Priest, or something. Probably Christian or Catholic," Riley replied, pushing her glasses up once again.
"Well I've eaten my fill-"
"You haven't eaten anything," Riley interrupted.
"Where's the bathroom?"
One of the ladies pointed to a door at the opposite end of the church, "Be careful though, the door to the right is the basement and the one on the left is the bathroom."
DiNozzo smiled, "You ladies have been a great help!"
"Not really," circle glasses Riley deadpanned.
Edward excused himself from the table after Carl and Rich had left. Not because the previous had left, but DiNozzo was making his way over and Ed really didn't need anymore questions about him and DiNozzo coming from the siblings he sat with.
"Alright," DiNozzo said in a hushed voice as they walked out of the church, "We'll come back tomorrow and see about that basement."