A/N: Hi, yes, I know it was long, and I′m sorry, but I′ve started my studies this year and that comes first, so forgive me for not having enough time to write. As per usual, read and reviews are appreciated.
By the time they came upstairs, there were only Tony, Tim and Abby left waiting. Ziva got her emotions under control but was still confused. She was a trained Mossad Officer and an NCIS Agent, for heaven′s sake. How did this unknown, seemingly ordinary Colonel manage to break through all of her defenses, not to mention in a span of a few minutes? Yes, she knew the outside rarely showed what was inside, and yes, Ari was a sore spot, but only her father and Gibbs should've known what had really happened that night. Gibbs didn't push her to talk, and Eli only spoke of the following missions with her. She would have to find out how the Colonel did know, how much he knew and also about the other thing he told her. The hard part will be doing it all on her own. There was no way she could tell anyone on the team and her Mossad contacts were out too. But, since she didn't have the clearance and therefore wouldn't be helping with the investigation, she had a lot of time for research.
"Ziva!" cried out Abby and rushed in for a hug.
"I'm okay, Abby," said Ziva. She looked over the scientist's shoulder into Tony's eyes, nodding slightly. After a moment of contemplation, he nodded back, the corner of his lips twitching slightly up in a quick smile.
"We've saved you some food, Ziva," McGee handed her the container after Abby let her go.
"Thank you, Tim."
They sat down in the living room, enjoying small talk, while Ziva ate. Afterward, they all bid Gibbs goodnight and made their way to their respective homes.
"Yes, sir. I understand. No, I'll tell him. Goodbye, General." Jack hung up the phone. "Damn paper-pushers!" He made his way over to the bed and sat down. They were staying at a three-star hotel, close to the center of DC. Both rooms had walls covered in a wallpaper with simple flowery design and windows facing towards a still quiet street.
"Your leaders refused to give Officer David a clearance," came more of a statement than a question from Teal'c.
"You got that, Teal'c."
"Do you want me to tell them, Jack?" Asked Daniel, who was leaning against a wall, looking out the window.
"No, I'll tell them. Thanks. So... How about breakfast?" Asked O'Neill, after checking his watch.
"Some sustenance would be most appreciated, O'Neill."
"Good-morning, sir, Daniel, Teal'c," Sam came from the bathroom, dressed in fresh clothes.
"Good morning, Major Carter."
"Morning, Sam. Breakfast?"
"Yeah, I need some coffee."
"Okay then, let's go campers," Jack rose up from his seat on the edge of the bed.
Ziva was steadily making her way through a pile of backlogged mission reports, while simultaneously digging in Mossad database for missions in Iraq, around 1991, on her laptop. She couldn't risk using her work computer. She will look for information on Colonel at home after work. None of the team were in yet, not even Gibbs. A couple of minutes later Ducky stopped by on his way to autopsy. After half an hour Gibbs walked into the bullpen, standing before her desk to look into her eyes. When he found what he wanted he just nodded and continued to his own desk. Not long after Gibbs, Tony and Tim came, arguing about something or the other: "...no, I've already told you, McElf, if you want it to work, you need to have a lot of practice. You can't just achieve my level after a first try, I've honed this skill for twelve years..."
"Tony, I don't want to do that. It's not my style..."
"Yeah, well, what is?" Mumbled Tony. McGee shot him a look.
DiNozzo put the extra paper cup in his hands on Ziva's desk, along with a paper bag containing a croissant and two cinnamon rolls. A loud whistle came from the balcony to director's office.
"Hey, campers, we have a case to solve, so what are you waiting for?" O'Neill yelled from upstairs.
Ziva stayed seated, as the guys went with O'Neill to MTAC.
"...wasn't necessary to yell, I would've gone down to get them, Jack!" they heard from the half-opened door.
"Yes, mom," was the reply.
"Would you two just cut it out!" Barked Sam into their back-and-forth.
"Yeah, sorry, Carter."
Jack turned to Gibbs: "Ok, first things first: the higher-ups decided to stick with their first... decision. I'm sorry."
Gibbs gave one hard nod. He knew it was improbable they would change their minds and allow Ziva in. DiNozzo only frowned but resigned also. Tim looked uncomfortable as if contemplating whether to be angry or understanding.
"The good news is, Carter found something on the spy..." Continued Jack.
"I think, I found something. I don't know yet. Agent McGee, could you I get your assistance, please?" Asked Sam.
"Oh. Of course."
The both of them went to the computers by the wall, talking animatedly.
"Well, what do we do now?" Asked Tony.
"I don't know, technically, it's your investigation." Replied O'Neill.
"Jack..." Daniel's long-suffering tone was almost tangible.
"How about a little field trip?"
"We're going to visit everyone who knew Lieutenant Johnson, before and after he got transferred, aren't we, boss?" This time the long-suffering voice belonged to Tony.
"Yes, DiNozzo." Gibbs was daring Tony to contradict him.
"Right, then... I'll go get us some... A lot of coffee."
"Hey, Ziva," came from the speaker, when she picked up the phone.
"Tony? Where are you?"
"I'm just calling I'll be about 20 minutes late, we went with Gibbs ask some questions Johnson's former co-workers. Do you want me to bring some coffee?"
"No, I made some already." She forgot Tony is coming in the evening, to help her study for the citizenship exams. Fortunately, his delay gave her the chance to hide her research on Colonel O'Neill. She still didn't find anything in the Mossad files, not that she thought she would.
"Ok, see you then."