DISCLAIMER: Now I have TWO shows in which I have no rights nor ownership; I merely borrow the characters of Dark Angel and Navy NCIS for a bit of amusement.
A/N: Wasn't it inevitable that someone had to do this? If you have to blame someone for leading me to this, blame all the folks who have been egging me on these last stories & introducing me to the joys of fic-chat. You know who you are! Thanks to each of you.
A/N pt.2: Part of this story borrows from my earlier one, Still Waters, in which we learned that Bling was a Navy Seal who left the service, as did most in his unit, after the Pulse.
FISHERS, INDIANA: February 1, 2020, 9:17 P.M.
The coroner stepped around the body, slumped but still fairly upright in a chair, and stood to the side as the detective made his way across the room. "Anything?" The detective asked.
"Single shot to the forehead, close range..." The coroner stood up, frowning. "He's exactly as he was found?"
The detective nodded. "Could he have done it?" He had worked with this young doctor a few times–the kid was still waiting for his paperwork to go through, and his transfer to the FBI to become reality. In the mean time, he had been taking to turning every call into a cloak and dagger affair. This time, the detective was pleased to have a coroner with enough interest to work this through with him.
The coroner shook his head. "Just looking at him–entry here, exit..." He pointed. "Even standing, the odds of him managing this angle..."
"Blood splatter is all wrong, too." The seasoned detective spoke low. "Some smears, here..." He pointed with the stylus he'd been using to enter his notes on a small palm pad. "Someone moved him here, and did a pretty crappy job if they'd intended to keep it a secret."
"Why try to make it look like a suicide but not very well?"
"Maybe you're not a very good killer."
The doctor chewed his lip, frowning more deeply. "The killer part he managed okay. The guy's been been dead about two hours. His wife found him?" At the detective's nod, the coroner dropped his voice. "She's been trying to tell Sommers over there that her husband got some strange call a couple days ago from someone he used to know but who was supposed to be dead all these years, and that some other guy they both knew died a couple weeks ago."
Finally the detective's expression turned, too. "She think it's something?"
"Well, yeah. She's pretty freaked out."
"Okay–I'll talk to her." He saw the coroner's eyes glance back to his, in question. He wavered, then caved. "What?"
"He let the guy in, didn't he?"
"You can tell, from the body?"
"I knew it!..." The coroner hissed, his eyes shining.
The detective sighed. "The door was unlocked...if there were any signs of break-in they've been removed or...there were none."
"Why would he be any better at hiding signs of a break-in than he was at faking a suicide?" The coroner looked to the senior detective.
The detective's eyes rounded as he considered it, his lips pursed. "You're sure it was fake?"
The coroner looked back at the body, alone at the desk. "Only way that was suicide was if he had help."
Another sigh rose from the detective. "Okay." He turned to the patrolman nearest him. "Call the captain...and tell the perimeter people they'll need a second team to relieve them for next shift..." He looked back at the eager coroner. "Might as well hang around–I'm gonna call Randy and see if the Crime Lab guys can run this one for us." He flipped open his phone, and waited only a moment after speed-dialing dispatch. "Hey, Rho, it's me–patch me into State Crime Lab, will ya?" He let his breath out, surveying the room. "It's gonna be a long night..."
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON: February 3, 2020 11:11 A.M.
Logan Cale heard his therapist call for the second time, and finally pulled his nose away from his computer. Moving back around to the therapy room, he came over to the bench and backed along its side. "What did you think of the Carrier file?" Logan watched the broad back a few feet away as Bling lifted two sets of hand weights, and leaned to lock his brakes in order to transfer to the bench. "With all that, no way they're not in the stream for the pharmaceutical drain going on in northern California..."
"I'd hate to see them in it, too...they've always been--" The sound of his cell phone ringing made Bling stop, surprised. Only a very few people had this number, and he was in the room with one of them. He looked at Logan, apologetically.
"Take it," Logan nodded toward the ringing jacket, flung on a side chair. "Must be important..."
"Sorry..." Bling crossed the room as Logan leaned behind his back to grab onto the sturdy frame and smoothly lift himself onto the bench, first easing back for a better seat, shifting then slightly to the side and lifting his legs up onto the padded surface. As he drew up, the sound of Bling's voice in the hall drew his attention to the words as well...
"Oh, damn it..." The trainer breathed softly. "When?" After a pause, the voice was lower, more terse. "It was investigated?" Another pause. "What did they say?" This pause was longer...tense...and punctuated by a small, sharp intake of breath, and his whisper, "That's impossible..."
Logan lost the last glimmer of guilt he'd felt for eavesdropping and listened, straining to catch all he could of the one-sided conversation that had his normally unflappable friend shaken. More was said, but little that told him anything about what had happened. When Bling returned to the training room, his usual sanguine expression had been replaced by one of pain and anger and...what? Disbelief...?
"Bling...?" Logan waited; the man didn't speak at first, gathering his thoughts. He finally spoke.
"A friend...a former team mate, Cal Palmer..." Bling looked dazed, finally meeting Logan's eyes. "He was found in his home, single gunshot wound between the eyes..." As Logan waited, his eyes asking the rest, Bling added, "not self inflicted, but– someone wanted it to look as if it was."
Logan frowned, his friendship for Bling making his trainer's concerns his own. "The police investigated? What department?"
"Local police; small suburb outside of Indianapolis...not a large department but they have friends and contacts in Indy; the state crime lab there came out too, courtesy assist." Bling's brow was drawn, lost in thought.
Logan suddenly remembered, then, and turned to Bling in concern. "Wait–that's two, now, in as many weeks–two guys from your team, two suspicious, shooting deaths...?" Bling nodded, silent. "Was that another guy from the team, who called?"
"What did the police say about that?"
"Not much; jurisdictional thing. I think they're taking it into account, whatever it might to add to their investigation, but...the bigger picture, probably nothing will come of it..." Bling stared at the floor, working through the information he'd learned. "Something else..." He looked up to see Logan, waiting. "Apparently Cal got a call a couple days before he died...his wife said it really shook him, and that Cal said the call was from Denny Parks." Logan watched Bling's face, shrugging a little, asking...and Bling let his breath out in a slow sigh. "Denny Parks died en route to a mission two months before I got out."
Bling had wanted to go ahead with Logan's session but Logan wouldn't hear of it; Bling was clearly disturbed by the news, and Logan wanted to do anything in his power to start finding answers. "Let me look into them–maybe there's something..." Logan offered, shifting back to move off of the bench and back into his chair. He was spinning his way back to the computer room as Bling followed, speaking woodenly.
"Already did, with Jack." He stopped behind Logan, whose hands flew over the keys to clear out his current project and pull up some of his more intrusive software. At his words, Logan turned to look up at Bling, eyebrows lifting, and saw Bling nod toward the monitor, indicating his files were in the system in front of them. Wordlessly, Logan rolled back to get out of Bling's way, so he could call up what he had. Bling leaned over to tap a handful of keys, then reached to pull over the desk chair as the docs came up on screen. "Jack Halladay." Bling recited, voice monotone. "Police report indicates he was jumped, armed robbery–public place...more daylight than not...random act of violence, according to the Houston Police Department." Bling stared unseeing at the screen for several moments. "Problem is...witnesses report that Jack was just dressed in jeans and a shirt, nothing particularly eye-catching or expensive-looking...and that the assailant ran past several other people before making a bee-line to Jack and shooting him once, between the eyes..." Bling half-laughed, without humor. "All that and no one stopped the shooter.."
Logan felt a chill. "Bling..."
Bling didn't flinch. "I know..."
"Is there any reason you can think of that someone wants your unit dead?" Logan breathed.
Bling shook his head. "No more reason than I have for why Denny came back from the dead."
Logan's eyes narrowed, trying to make sense of things. "Is there any way those two items aren't related somehow?" He stole a worried look at his trainer, his friend...and had a sudden thought. "Has everyone been called, to let them know to watch their backs?"
Bling nodded. "Patrick–on the phone–he took care of it." Bling sat staring at the image of his teammate on the screen, and managed, finally, "I don't know what else to do."
Logan looked up, a light suddenly in his eyes. "I might..." He reached toward the computer as Bling moved out of his way and watched Logan scroll through some notes and government regs he seemed to have had stored in a general information file. With a look of some satisfaction, Logan muttered "Thought so." He punched in a few more keys and said to Bling, "For once, government oversight coupled with downsizing may have worked in our favor. What if I call in the cavalry?"
DISTRICT of COLUMBIA: February 3, 2020 7:40 P.M.
There was a rap at the Director's inner office door, opened and unguarded as his secretary had gone for the day. Gibbs looked up from the stack of reports he held in his hand, peering over the glasses he left perched on his nose. His slim, state of art monitor and computer station was dark as he reviewed the still-preferred paper print out of the daily reports. At least it wasn't so unused as to be dusty...
Through the dusky office, past the pool of light spilling onto his desk top from his old fashioned banker's lamp, he saw the familiar form of DiNozzo crossing toward his desk.
"Hey, Boss." Some things never changed, Gibbs mused, as the agent he'd recruited nearly two decades earlier approached his desk. "You're here late."
"You say that every night, DiNozzo." Gibbs muttered. "What've you got?"
"Somethin' to show you." The dimple still quirked above the grin as the senior agent tossed three files onto the mahogany desk. "Two homicides, Boss; one two days ago, one two weeks ago. Victims served in the same SEAL unit, deployed fourteen years ago, out of commission ten years ago after five of the eight quit. Two, three months before they quit...this guy" Tony tapped the third file, "killed himself."
Gibbs looked up, eyebrow arched. "Suicide? While deployed?"
"En route to a mission." Tony stood over the 'Old Man's' desk, watching Gibbs flip through the files. "The suicide info is classified–no one was told it was a suicide, listed as accident."
"No one knows?" Gibbs was skeptical.
"Circumstances–his unit had to know. My guess is that the Navy was embarrassed that they didn't catch it in time and get him some help—and his teammates kept the secret, one of those honor things..." He barely paused anymore when Gibbs threw him one of his looks–although the looks still had an effect, always would. "They let the family and everyone else think he was killed in the line."
"Of course, they're all retired now, though, right? Tony, if they're not active..."
"Boss, you've got two homicides, across state lines, possible serial with additional potential targets identified; more state lines. That makes it the Feebees' call. With the Navy connection, even retired–concurrent jurisdiction since 2016, Boss." Tony grinned. "FBI hasn't picked it up yet and would probably be happy to let us run with it."
Gibbs narrowed his eyes at DiNozzo, who after all this time recognized the look that feigned skepticism to hide growing interest–getting a straight out compliment from his boss was still a challenge. "So–you think the homicides are related?"
Tony nodded. "Each death suspicious, each a single shot to the forehead, thirty two calibre; one from a possible suicide that had the earmarks of being phonied up; the other, a street robbery in broad daylight, unlikely area, not random–witnesses saw the man being approached directly, across a fairly wide area, where the perp passed several other people closer he could have targeted." DiNozzo saw that he had Gibbs' interest, and leaned forward a little. "Don't know about that one, Boss, but the second one, the 'suicide" –victim's wife reported that about three days before he was killed, her husband got a phone call from an old buddy from the SEAL unit he served with..." Again, Tony tapped the file, "from Specialist First Class Denny Parks."
Gibbs frowned down to the open file, then looked back up to DiNozzo. "Ten years after he died?"
"Kinda unusual, huh?" Tony grinned, pleased that he'd sucked in his director. "I'd like to follow up on these."
Gibbs sat back, the pose grudgingly acknowledging the agent's case. "It might be worth a look," he nodded. "How'd you find the connection on these, DiNozzo?" He looked back to the man before him. "Your team put this together?"
"Matter of fact, no..." DiNozzo's mouth quirked up in irony. "My cousin did..."
...to be continued...