Disclaimer: Jenny's not mine, the show NCIS belongs to CBS while the real thing belongs to the Navy. Paula is mine, DESI is mine, the crossover mix in this story is mine though its parts are not.

Chapter 1 – And Your Next Assignment Is…: NCIS Special Agent Jennifer Shepard drove through midday Washington D.C. traffic with some trepidation. It had been years since she'd had a stateside job. Her area of expertise involved overseas ops, particularly undercover. So why did Director Morrow want her for a U.S. job?

She didn't know, and the director had been unforthcoming on the phone. He'd just told her to postpone her latest op, catch a flight from Berlin, and be at headquarters at 1330, so here she was, pulling into the Navy Yard, and still totally clueless as to why she was there.

She was about to get out of the car when she spotted two male agents headed for a car and froze. She recognized the silver-haired man in the lead, though the brunet man behind him with the cocky swagger was a stranger. She didn't give a damn about the dark haired man. Her eyes were fixed on the one in front, the man she knew all too well. Jethro…

It was stupid to freeze, as though she were afraid to face him again. She wasn't, not really, though it had been just over a year since she'd left him in Paris with nothing more than a Dear John letter. It wasn't fear; it was… prudence, that was all. She was well aware they'd probably meet again one day, but it was perfectly logical for her to want to hold off on that meeting for as long as possible, wasn't it?

After Jethro and his young partner had left, Jenny got out of the car and strode into the NCIS building, her confident movements hiding any leftover traces of her reaction to the sight of her ex-lover. It wouldn't do for anyone to think she was shaken by anything, even if they'd have no way to know what the problem was.

When she reached the outer area of the Director's office, his secretary waved her in. "He's expecting you, Agent Shepard," she said pleasantly. Jenny nodded and walked into the main office.

"Ah, hello Jenny," Morrow said pleasantly, looking up from his paperwork. "Have a seat." Jenny complied, barely managing not to start asking questions then and there.

"I imagine you're wondering why you're here."

"Yes, sir, I am. Domestic operations aren't exactly my area of expertise."

"No, they're not. But this isn't your average domestic operation. I need someone who has skills in the field but is also good at diplomacy and politics. You've proven yourself to have those qualities."

Jenny nodded, though she was still confused. "I see. Can I ask what I'll be doing?"

"I have no idea."


"You're going to be working with DESI." He said that as though the statement was explanation enough, and in some ways it was. Most people who worked for one of the armed federal agencies had heard of DESI. If NCIS was the poor country cousin of the FBI and CIA, DESI was the mad aunt no one ever discussed.

Everyone knew the name, or at least the initials. What did they stand for? No one could say, just like they couldn't say what DESI did. All anyone knew was that every now and then, some agency would pick up a case that was… unusual, and suddenly DESI would swoop in and take over. No agency to date had ever gotten any of those cases back – not even the CIA.

"I didn't think DESI let other agencies in on their investigations."

"Usually they don't, but a man they haven't taken down yet just murdered a Marine."

"Why didn't they get him?"

"Apparently they were just tailing him, trying to use him to take down a suspected larger group of rogues."


"Yeah. He's one of them, or he was. They wanted him to lead them to others, but he's been killing for the past month. Now that he's killed a Marine, we've got enough bargaining power to slow them down, at least. Their director, James Hasling, doesn't want that, so he suggested a compromise. One NCIS agent goes undercover with one DESI agent, while another DESI agent acts as the contact."

"And I'm the NCIS agent."

"Yes. And I'm afraid that's all I can tell you."

Jenny didn't try to keep the surprise off her face. "Sir?"

"I don't know anything else, Agent Shepard. I wish I did, but Hasling's done all the cooperating he can stomach, apparently."

Jenny nodded. "So, are they coming here?"

"No, you're going there. Apparently someone's waiting outside to take you there."

"You're kidding, right?"

"No, they're being extremely paranoid. Good luck, Agent Shepard."

It was clearly a dismissal, and Jenny took it as such. She left the office and then the building, looking around for the person who was supposed to take her to the DESI headquarters. This really was ridiculous. What were they so afraid of?

"Are you Jennifer Shepard?" asked someone from behind her. Jenny turned to see a young woman about her height, dressed in unrelieved black, with hair a slightly darker red than Jenny's own. Jenny would have guessed her age at twenty or so, though the wraparound sunglasses the stranger wore made it hard to say for certain.

"Who are you?"

"DESI Special Agent Paula Ravenwood," she said, holding out a hand sheathed in a black cotton glove. "We're to be working together, from what I've been told."

"Aren't you a little young to be an agent?" Jenny asked, taking the offered hand.

"DESI recruits young. Like the military. One of my best friends is a Marine, so I know." She smiled. "We need to get going, Agent Shepard," she said, gesturing to a two-door silver car a few yards away.

Jenny could hear a hint of a British accent in Ravenwood's voice, but she didn't ask about it. She didn't ask her companion – or partner, if the girl was to be believed – anything as she slid into the front passenger seat and Ravenwood drove them off. She stayed silent, thinking things through. She didn't know enough yet, but she hoped that would change soon. And she really hoped this girl wasn't her partner. She was a probie, for God's sake, or whatever DESI called new agents. Even she hadn't been this green when she'd started her undercover work.

Paula Ravenwood would have known what Shepard was thinking just from the look in her eyes. A lot of people made that mistake about her, equating age with inexperience. Usually it was fine, even useful; when people underestimated you, you could use that. But when the person underestimating you was someone you were supposed to be working with, it was just annoying. Granted, there was very little she could do about it, except prove the older woman wrong. And she could do that.

A/N: Sorry, Gibbs and his partner (it was Tony, if you didn't guess) won't be coming into this story, though Gibbs will possibly appear in flashbacks. I just couldn't help but slip them in.