I know that I haven't updated this story in over a year, but I really want to finish it and it's one of my favourites. Hopefully, I can get it done and judging by all the reviews I've been getting, you hope so too. So here is the 11th chapter. I hope my writing style hasn't changed too much since my last update. Thanks for sticking with me.
It seemed that the A-List celebrity party was one they'd never attend. Unable to reach Gibbs or the director, McGee scrambled his rushed and garbled message to the next agent in waiting—Tony.
"What is it, McParty-Prober?"
The Italian-American agent was, clearly, not amused by this.
"The parcel, Tony."
For a moment, he was lost. "Parcel?"
"Yes, the one that was delivered to you," the younger agent explained in an exasperated and unusually high-pitched voice. "The one that you wanted me to retrieve."
"And did you?"
"No, it's missing."
Colour drained from his face faster than a 100m sprinter of the blocks. The others, seeing this, immediately rushed over.
It took Tony forever to get those two syllables out.
"We had a major security breach at NCIS headquarters," McGee said.
"What is it?" Ziva requested of her partner almost immediately. Brennan, Booth and their Australian counterparts waited patiently for his response.
"Explain!" Tony's demand shocked them to the core.
At least it struck fear into the heart of the young NCIS agent on the other line. He complied with the command at once. "A man was disguised as pizza delivery boy. He told security he had a pepperoni deluxe for you and they didn't ask questions because you always do it."
"And they watched him sift through my desk? Why didn't anybody else see?"
"It was late," McGee continued, "and usually we're the only ones there that late. Security was lazy. They accompanied him to the bullpen and then left. I have a sneaky suspicion that he threw a free pizza or two their way. Nobody was in the bullpen but we have him on tape taking the parcel."
Fear was striking at his very heart. Deep down Tony knew that D-Day was creeping up fast. "An ID, McGee?"
"We don't have one. Baseball cap. Bomber jacket. He stayed in the shadows. You never see his face."
"Tony!" Ziva shouted in his face. "What. Is. Going. On?"
He ignored her. "Why aren't you telling this to Gibbs?"
"I can't get through to him," McGee answered.
That didn't sound their boss, Tony thought. Rule number three—never be unreachable. So what was going on for him to break his own rules.
McGee was shaking his head, but when he remembered that Tony couldn't see him and was probably waiting for a verbal answer, he replied, "No."
Tony was curiously quiet for moment before answering McGee. "I'll call you back." And he hung up.
Ziva looked positively ready to explode. "Now will you please just tell us?"
"The package is gone."
As it turned out, everybody was getting confused.
"The one that Tyler Heinrich sent to me a few days ago," Tony explained quickly. "Somebody broke into NCIS and stole it."
"Why did you leave it in your des-" Booth began, before Ziva angrily cut him off.
"This is neither the time nor the place to lay blame. What we must do now is find out who took it, why and what was in it?"
"Can you answer any of those, Tony?" Brennan asked.
"The who? Not exactly, but I don't think it matters. Obviously it was something of great value to the Order and it could be anywhere by now. I don't think we'll see it again."
"What about what was in it?" Ziva requested expectantly.
Tony was visibly uncomfortable, but the truth was owed to his colleagues nonetheless. The cat was out of the bag now and he needed a shoulder or two to lean on if he didn't want to get scratched. "A book, I think."
"A book?" Detective Ethan Galindez drawled. "What kind of book?"
"When Tyler and I were at school, we were already being groomed for the roles we would expect to assume as Knights. And Tyler's was especially important. He was good at keeping records. Tidy. Organised. That sort of thing. He was also incredibly good at keeping secrets. As logic would have it, he would become The Keeper."
"The Keeper?" Booth asked. "He kept what exactly?"
"The book," Tony answered vaguely. "Something of incredible importance to the Order. It was written by Adam Weishaupt himself, in Bavaria in the late eighteenth century, and added to over the years."
"What's in it?" Ziva pondered aloud.
Tony drew in a breath. "All of the secrets of the Order. Everything they've learnt. Every name of every member. Few people are privy to its details and I was never one of them."
"It makes sense," Brennan began over the top of hushed, shocked whispers. "In all academies, skill and specialisation is recognised in youngsters early and their talent is honed to create a participant with a certain skills set."
"What was yours?" Booth asked Tony.
"Covert operations," he answered emotionlessly. "They wanted to slip me into finance, like my father."
"We should tell Gibbs," Ziva suggested.
"Tried," Tony replied, "and he didn't pick. Neither did the director."
"They were sorting out what to do with Lieutenant Commander Hawking," Baker put in. "I'll call Detective Harris and see if she can locate them."
But there would be little that Samantha Harris could say or dictate to help them with their manhunt. The NCIS director had left some time ago with her subordinate agent and had not discussed their evening plans with her. They would not, in fact, discuss such plans with anybody.
A quiet dinner in a Star City restaurant was followed by a nightcap in her room. Both knew the likely outcome, but each had expressed little feeling on the subject. With a blasé 'come-what-may' attitude, their tender touches to the hotel room were uninterrupted and oblivious to the world. Phones were on but not nearby. They would check them soon enough.
There was almost a rush against the clock aura in the room. If the world they knew was really about to come to a dramatic end and they were really powerless to stop it, then they would take advantage of the time given to them.
"All this bickering between us is senseless, Jethro," his fair maiden had said. "I want to know what you really think."
"Are you sure, Jen?"
It was a game of No-Limit Hold 'Em Poker and neither could bluff their way through it. Their poker faces were ineffective and untrained. They couldn't hide from each other and they could no longer lie to one another.
Jenny stepped forward bravely as soon as the hotel door had shut. Her fingers were gliding softly along the length of his arms. Her hot breath was stinging the bare skin between his collar. His muscles tightened and his control stiffened. He would keep it if he could, but a part of him knew he had surrendered to a deeper will the moment he had offered to accompany Jenny to her hotel.
"Tell me how you feel."
"I know you're never any good with those," Jenny admonished.
"Mm," he agreed as her lips pressed against his neck. The hairs on the back of it stood on end. He was tense, but it was slowly being ebbed away with her soft kisses.
"I think there's something missing from our relationship," Gibbs admitted. "Something that we'll never achieve."
She knew what he was thinking. "Trust."
"Mm," he said again. Her lips were making it impossible for him to think clearly. "Perhaps this was not meant to work."
Jenny took a small step back. "You can't get passed the way we met. This was never going to work."
He followed her like a hunting dog and his prey. She wasn't going to escape easily. "I said perhaps. I don't see why it can't."
"Mm." It was her turn to answer in monotonous syllables.
He closed the difference between them and dragged his lips from the side of her mouth to his lips. She responded in kind. Barriers that they had spent years building were being broken down in a matter of minutes. As his hands wrapped around her body and the animal inside him claimed the prey for his own taking, she wholly submitted to his rampant bodily desires.
A dormant excitement rose to the surface as she felt the smooth lumps and sharp bumps of his figure rub against hers. She had never been the same with another man and she could never feel the same way about another man since him. He had marked her, cursed her really, with a fiery need ever since they converged and, almost as quickly, diverged.
And Jenny… she had imprisoned him almost against his will. A Calypso of sorts, and after a fashion, he would be held hostage by the constant reminder of her rampant desire, and his equally unquenched thirst. Nobody else could do it for him. Nobody else could extinguish the fire. They were reliant on each other's need for love, and completely dependent on each other for that need. It was a vicious unending circle and tonight, they would yield.
By this point, their clothing had been shed and she was captive in his arms once more. The bed, he decided, would be their final resting place, but not before it became the site for their most recent indiscretion and desired conquest. Her tender nails were digging into the back of his calves with enough might to bruise as her arms enveloped his marked neck.
His lips were sinking into the crater above her shoulder, drawing derisive moans from her gaping mouth. They were just a metre from the patterned quilt now and he was ready to engulf her body with his own. There was just one issue. They had heard the annoying ringtones once before and ignored them at first, too involved with each other. But it seemed that the little pieces of technology had sensed the surreal danger and grown more panicky by the second. Their insistent buzzing had almost killed the mood and it took the NCIS director to decide that the world's needs would have to come before their own. She left Gibbs' side and checked her phone.
He was disappointed and so was she, but it soon evaporated when she heard the voice message left by a very strained and overworked Timothy McGee.
"Jethro," she called out. "You need to hear this."
He listened to the message with an emotionless stare. When he hung up the phone, Jenny had still not worked out what he was thinking. "I guess this will have to wait. We have to work to do."