A/N: Okay, I′ve finally managed to find a beta, so I′ll be replacing the already published chapters with beta-ed versions. It′s mostly just grammar corrections. Also, I′m trying to work on chapter 5, but life is still crazy, so it might still take some time.
PhillyCh3zSt3ak thanks, not only for correcting my mistakes, but also for explaining it.
"Hi Duck. So what do we have here?" asked Gibbs as he approached the body. The older ME was squatting beside the dead man, sticking a probe in his liver.
"Well, Jethro, I can't say for sure, but it does remind me of a time, when I was..." Ducky replied. Gibbs looked around, their surroundings familiar to those of every other crime scene. A body left in some dead end alley, between the garbage cans and almost unused back doors to one supermarket or another.
"Tony!" Ziva's voice brought him out of his reverie.
"What?" Tony replied.
"Did you find something?" she asked him for the third time, rolling her eyes.
"Umm... his dog tags. They were lying over there," he motioned to a nearby wall with a small round hole in it.
Ziva took the evidence bag from Tony to look closely at the tags. "Hey, McGee!" she called for Tim, who was on the other side of the alley, photographing the rest of the crime scene.
"Yeah?" Tim replied.
"Our victim's name was Lieutenant Daniel Johnson," she told him as he came near. Tim already had his PDA in hand, typing furiously.
"Got it," he said. The whole team surrounded him, leaving Ducky and Jimmy to take care of the body. There were civilians milling around the yellow tape, trying to see what happened. "All right, single, age... Oh, this can't be right..." mumbled McGee.
"What can't be right?" questioned Gibbs.
"Lieutenant Daniel Johnson was declared KIA almost 2 years ago."
"So... this isn't Johnson?"
"But this is his file photo," Tim showed them. It was the same face that Ducky just pulled a bag over.
After a few minutes Tony broke the silence, "Does it say how he was killed?"
"No, just that he received an Air Force Cross, which itself is weird."
"Why?" asked Tony.
"It's an Air Force medal, not Marine Corps, given for an extraordinary heroism against enemy," Gibbs told them.
"He earned it," came a voice from behind them. Gibbs and McGee spun around. There was a man with salt and pepper hair standing at the entrance of the alley. A suspicious lack of people could be seen behind the tape, only three of the by-standers stayed.
"Excuse me, sir, but you can't go in here…" started Jimmy Palmer, who just saw the stranger.
"Mr. Palmer, could you help me take our dead fellow to the car?" interfered Doctor Mallard seeing Gibbs' expression.
"I'm sorry, but we have to take that body," the stranger said.
"We?" asked McGee.
Another man stepped up to the first and although this one was younger, with light brown hair and had glasses, they both were dressed in jeans, t-shirts and jackets and they both had an air of confidence around them.
Ziva's hand automatically slipped to the gun at her side.
The second man seeing that spoke up, "I'm sure we can come to an understanding without the need for shooting. Hi, I'm..."
"Space-monkey, what did I tell you?" interrupted him the first man, staring at him meaningfully.
"Oh... Sorry," said the other man and kept quiet.
"Why you want that body?" asked Gibbs.
"Johnson's one of ours. We leave no one behind."
"So it is Lieutenant Johnson?" said Ducky for confirmation.
"What did he get that medal for?"
"That's beyond classified," he answered.
"Excuse me, but who are you?" Tony stated the question they all wanted to know.
The first man smirked, "That too, is classified. But we are here to take this case from you."
"I hate to disappoint you, but we don't just give our case. Lieutenant Johnson here is coming with us. Tony, Ziva, wrap it up. McGee, go help Ducky and Palmer, then take a ride with them. Or better yet, drive them." Gibbs' eyes never left the men before him.
Tony with Ziva collected the evidence bags and went to take them to the car.
"It was nice talking to you, sirs," Gibbs told them and went with his team. The first man gave him a smile and a small wave. Gibbs' senses were on high alert, his gut telling him something was off. If he could just... put his finger on it.
He figured it out five seconds later as he focused on the scene before him. Tony was lying on the ground, with McGee above him, trying to protect him from a big African-American holding some kind of weapon. Ducky and Palmer were nowhere to be seen. Ziva and a tall, blond haired woman were fighting, their guns lying out of reach, but there was no telling who'd win. Gibbs, his own 9mm already in hand, turned to the first two men. The younger one was already aiming at him and the other was... having a phone call?
"...You sure? No, of course I'm not questioning your orders, sir. But we almost..." He was obviously interrupted by the person on the line. He sighed, "That'll be a tough one, sir. And we don't have the paperwork with us. Umm. Yes. Ok. Good-bye, sir. Tell him we'll be waiting. No. Probably." He hung up and took a deep breath. "Put it down, Daniel, he's a former sniper. They don't miss. Carter, stop! You too, T."
The younger man holstered his pistol, as the African-American strapped his 'thing' back to his thigh. The blonde however kept rolling on the ground with Ziva.
"Carter!" barked the man. She looked up at him, receiving a punch in her abdomen.
"Ziva, enough!" called Gibbs.
Both women cautiously crept away from each other, picking up their guns along the way.
"Where are Ducky and Palmer?!" growled Gibbs, his own gun pointed at the first stranger.
"Ehm, T? Where are they?"
The African-American's lips quirked into something akin of smile. He opened a back door of the NCIS wan and unzipped first, then second body bag.
"Duck, you ok?"
"Do I look ok to you, Jethro?! I was stuffed in a bloody body bag, for heaven's sake!"
"My apologies, Doc, but we couldn't let you leave," replied the still unknown man, who now came up beside the blonde woman. He leaned in closer to her, "Change of plans. The higher-ups decided they can trust them. Davis is going to meet us at headquarters in about an hour," he whispered.
"Yes, sir," she said slowly.
"Well, then... Gibbs, is it? I believe, you want to take us to the custody. We'll go willingly and answer your questions, if we can, but we are to stay together at all times. Danny, T, give them your guns."
"You sure, Jack?"
Daniel just nodded.
Jack and his team stripped of the weaponry, including zats and handed it over to McGee. Ziva was able to wake up Tony and Gibbs was piercing them with his stare: "Why?" he asked finally.
"We had our orders."
"Why don't we discuss this in more private place. And I'm sure, the necessary paperwork will already be there. Then we can tell it without skipping confidential parts."
"All right. Get in the car."