Disclaimer:- I do not own NCIS or its characters and any copyright infringement is unintentional.
A/N First chapter contains some necessary back story to get us "up to speed" so we can move on - hang in there with me! L
"I don't care if you've searched that warehouse fifty times! We must have missed something! I want the warehouse and the surrounding area searched again! NOW!" Gibbs' face flushed with colour as he growled at his young agents.
Ziva and McGee didn't pause to acknowledge the team leader's demand as they hastily collected their gear and headed for the elevator. They had felt Gibbs' wrath often enough to know the difference between his furious and his worried tone. Although this was definitely his worried tone, the smallest hesitation could be enough to tip the scales.
Director Leon Vance stood on the landing above the bullpen quietly observing his lead agent as Gibbs resumed his seat at his desk and ran his hands through his hair in frustration.
The last six days had been tough on the entire team but none more so than Leroy Jethro Gibbs. It had been six days since his senior field agent, Anthony DiNozzo, last made contact and although he was on a deep undercover assignment, in Gibbs' mind, the silence meant one thing – Tony was in serious trouble.
As the new agency director, Vance was still getting to know the agents under his command but he was beginning to understand that, with DiNozzo, what you saw was definitely not what you got. The ex-detective could be a giant pain in the ass six days out of seven, but seven days out of seven he got the job done and the agency needed him. Truth be told, he still couldn't understand what it was about DiNozzo that prompted such a volatile reaction from the normally taciturn Gibbs.
He cast his mind back over the events leading up to this day:-
The past eight months had seen a disturbing number of seemingly isolated but serious incidents involving Navy and Marine personnel and illegal narcotics. The increase in drug related activity had warranted separate investigations by NCIS' Washington, Florida and San Diego Field Offices.
When the Hawaii Field Office and Agents Afloat on the USS Enterprise, Ronald Reagan and Chosin reported similar incidents, SecNav had demanded an investigation and Vance ordered his lead agent, Leroy Jethro Gibbs and the Major Case Response team attempt to find a link to all the reported cases.
The tox reports of the most serious drug related incidents were sent to Forensic Specialist Abby Sciuto for further analysis and results ascertained that the drug was a heroin-based substance mixed with a small amount of PCP. As suspected, the chemical compounds of all samples matched - confirming the drugs originated from one very sizable source.
The widespread distribution of the narcotics through major Naval bases and ships underway was of major concern and the team turned their suspicion and their attention to the only common thread – the Naval Supply Corps.
The investigation now had two main focuses – find and charge those responsible for the distribution of the drugs via the Naval Supply Corps and track down the source of the drugs.
During the course of their investigation, Gibbs' team had received information alleging the involvement of Evan Grayson, the son of one of the most respected business entrepreneurs in the US. There had always been unsubstantiated whispers about the source of the funds that Thomas Grayson used to get his start in legitimate business. The FBI had investigated Grayson sometime ago but found no proof to corroborate the rumours. Gibbs' famous gut had no doubt that Grayson Senior was using his enormous wealth and considerable influence to import the drugs into the country and circumnavigate any customs issues. But having a gut feeling about it and proving it were two entirely different matters.
Director Vance knew that any claims made by his agency against Thomas Grayson, would need to be irrefutable. The man had twice been named US Entrepreneur of the Year and was known as much for his brilliant business acumen as for his well-publicised philanthropic activities. Thomas Grayson was a very public figure and very well connected in political circles.
It was for this reason that Vance called for a consult with the NCIS Legal Team and a representative from the JAG office to discuss whether they had sufficient evidence to have the Graysons brought in for questioning. Commander Peter Barnes, leading JAG Prosecutor and, coincidentally, close friend of Tony DiNozzo's arrived at the office to discuss the situation and review the evidence. After two hours, of intense and at times highly volatile discussion, it had been decided that the majority of their evidence was circumstantial or hearsay.
If they brought the Graysons in for questioning, without enough evidence to charge them, they would shut down their entire operation and NCIS may never have another opportunity to locate those responsible for distributing drugs throughout the major Naval bases. An undercover operation was required.
The preferred option was to place an agent in the Naval Supply Corps to work side by side with the supply officers and report any irregularities or abnormalities. However, while NCIS had agents, like McGee, with a Masters in Computing Forensics and a BSc in Biomedical Engineering, today's Naval supply officers were schooled and experienced in a variety of disciplines such as supply management; inventory control; financial management; logistics, combat support; fuel management and food service and physical distribution. Without specialist training in those areas, an undercover agent would be spotted straight away and the operation would fail.
If they were going to gather the evidence they required, someone needed to get deep inside the drug ring. Tony had been nominated to resurrect a cover used successfully on previous undercover assignments and infiltrate the organization.
Just over six weeks ago Tony, as Gus Bricker, befriended Evan Grayson when he came to Grayson's aid in a staged bar fight. Grayson had invited Tony to join him for a drink and the two men had forged a "firm friendship."
Evan Grayson had been looking for a reliable 'second' to assist him oversee the importation and distribution of the narcotics. He researched Bricker's background, noting his dishonourable discharge from the Marines for substance abuse and various other illegal activities since. Bricker had the attributes he was looking for; street smart, handy with his fists, Marine trained and therefore well-versed in handling firearms and the man talked a good game. Apart from all that, he genuinely liked Gus and quickly came to trust him.
Being deep undercover meant no wire and no surveillance but every Saturday night like clockwork, Tony would enjoy "happy hour" at a lively nightclub in Arlington. He would flirt outrageously with a very familiar, dark-eyed waitress with long dark hair and exotic middle-eastern beauty. When it couldn't be avoided, Evan Grayson accompanied him so he had to be particularly careful when passing any new intel to Ziva - and he always left her an overly generous tip, courtesy of the NCIS expense account.
After eight weeks undercover, living in Gus Bricker's seedy apartment, driving Bricker's crappy car and the constant worry of his cover being blown, Tony looked thin and exhausted. He was frustrated that he still had nothing tangible to link Grayson Senior to the drug operation. The whole team would be glad when this assignment was over and Tony could return to the NCIS fold – particularly a silver-haired lead agent with icy blue eyes who had been moody, cantankerous and enormously difficult to work with during this whole operation.
Six days ago during "happy hour," Tony told Ziva of the large shipment of drugs expected to arrive at the docks that night at 2200. The high quality heroin had an estimated street value of seven million US dollars. He gave her the warehouse and the dock numbers, told her that Evan Grayson, his cousin Billy Matthews and he would be handling the delivery of the shipment…and he assured her that his cover was secure.
The drug bust on the warehouse had secured the large drug shipment and several local drug-dealers who had intended to purchase some of the illicit cargo - but Grayson was missing, his cousin Billy Matthews was missing…and Tony was missing.
Shaking himself from his musing Vance turned on his heel to return to his office only to find himself staring into a pair of icy blue eyes.
"Something I can do for you, Director?" Gibbs asked.
"Just checking to see whose voice was about to shatter the skylight, Gibbs," Vance answered calmly. "I take it there's no news on DiNozzo?"
"Nothing," Gibbs said. "I don't like this, Leon. DiNozzo's an experienced undercover operative. Something's wrong or he'd have contacted me."
"There could be any number of reasons why he hasn't made contact," Vance said. "If he thought his cover was blown he'd have gone to ground until things cooled down. If the Graysons know DiNozzo was responsible for that drug bust, they'll be hell-bent on finding him."
"All the more reason to kick down Thomas Grayson's door," Gibbs argued.
Vance's eyes narrowed in silent appraisal. He knew Gibbs was likely to resort to any means necessary to find DiNozzo but the last thing this agency needed was for its lead agent to be arrested and suspended for excessive force, wrongful arrest and a slew of other charges Thomas Grayson's high-priced attorney was likely to throw their way.
"I know how you feel but we've been over this a dozen times," Vance said, his voice remained calm but his dark eyes revealed his frustration. "If DiNozzo's cover is still intact and we go busting into Grayson Industries demanding our agent back, we could be responsible for his death."
"If DiNozzo's cover was still intact, Director, he would have made contact by now," Gibbs insisted.
"No one has seen DiNozzo or Grayson's son Evan, for almost a week," Vance replied. "It's more than likely that they are together and DiNozzo's cover is still intact. Maybe he just hasn't had the opportunity to make contact."
"Tony's as resourceful as they come," Gibbs said resolutely. "Hell, if he was captured by the Taliban, he could charm Bin Laden into borrowing his cell. He'd find a way to contact me."
Vance waved Gibbs into his office to continue their discussion.
"When DiNozzo last made contact with David, he assured her that his cover was secure," Vance recounted. "When the warehouse was raided later that night, Evan Grayson, DiNozzo and Grayson's nephew, Billy Matthews were all missing. I repeat, that doesn't mean DiNozzo's cover was blown."
Gibbs scrubbed his face with his hands. The inside of his eyes felt dry and gritty from lack of sleep.
"You don't know that."
"You think the Graysons learned about the bust?" Vance asked.
"Explains why they didn't show up. It was too late to stop the shipment arriving but not too late for the Graysons to avoid being arrested. Something happened between 1900, when Tony met with Ziva and the raid at 2215."
The shrill of his cell sounded and he answered with his usual, "Gibbs." As he listened to the call, Gibbs' usually impassive face paled.
"I'll be right there," he responded before flipping his cell closed and disconnecting the call.
"That was McGee," he said already heading for the door. "Metro PD just pulled a body out of the river. Matches DiNozzo's description."
"Keep me informed," Vance called after him as Gibbs descended the stairs two at a time, collected his gear and called Ducky to meet him at the crime scene.
Gibbs brought the agency vehicle to an abrupt halt and strode purposefully to where Ziva and McGee were waiting near the pier. He flashed his badge to wave off the uniformed officer who approached him and ducked under the yellow and black tape cordoning off area. Taking a deep breath he headed directly for the body as Ziva and McGee moved quickly to intercept him.
He ignored Ziva's call, not veering from his course until she positioned herself directly in his path and placed both hands on his chest to halt his progress. Although his face was inscrutable, she could feel his heart beating rapidly and see the trepidation in his eyes as he looked towards the prone body. She spoke firmly and quietly.
"Gibbs, it is not Tony."
He closed his eyes briefly and allowed a moment's relief but when he opened his eyes it was business as usual.
"Report," he said.
"Metro PD received a call from a young couple taking a stroll on the pier, er.. Jeremy Davis and Rachel Young," McGee stated, reading from his notepad. "They noticed the body floating face down and called 911 immediately. I've taken their statements, Boss. They didn't see or hear anything else. Only had eyes for each other if you know what I mean. They're pretty shaken up, I was gonna let them go home."
Gibbs nodded and turned to Ziva. "Has the body been identified?"
"Yes. Officer Doherty, over there, found a wallet belonging to Chief Warrant Officer Louis Farrell, the photo on the licence and a Norfolk photo ID match the body," Ziva responded looking at a wallet in an evidence bag. "There is nearly two hundred dollars inside, this was not a robbery."
"I do hope that flatfoot didn't disturb my crime scene!" Ducky's rich British accent resonated across the pier as he arrived with his assistant Jimmy Palmer in tow.
"You mean…aside from getting him out of the water, don't you, Doctor?" Jimmy asked.
"Mr Palmer, one would hardly be expected to swim out to examine the body," Ducky replied not hiding his exasperation.
"Not even with a name like Ducky?" Jimmy said, chuckling softly at his own joke until he noticed no one else was laughing and he'd become the centre of attention for several unamused looks. "I'll.. er…get the gurney," he said, feeling the colour rush to his cheeks.
"I am sorry, Ducky," Ziva replied holding the evidence bag aloft. "Officer Doherty removed this from the body. It is what Tony would call a wookiee mistake."
"Rookie, Ziva, not wookiee," McGee corrected. "A wookiee is a large furry alien from the Star Wars universe. They're really loyal and friendly but they can be extremely dangerous when provoked…"
McGee's head lurched forward suddenly from the force of a Gibbs head slap.
"They're not the only ones dangerous when provoked!" Gibbs growled.
"Of course, sorry Boss," McGee mumbled, reaching his hand around to rub the back of his head.
"Yes, well, even a rookie knows that no one touches the body until cleared to do so by the medical examiner," Ducky growled. "I hope you chastised him vehemently!"
"We did, Ducky," McGee said. "He'll know for next time."
"I'll do more than chastise you vehemently if you don't finish your report, McGee," Gibbs threatened.
"Oh, sorry Boss," McGee blushed. "We secured the perimeter, took measurements & sketched the crime scene area. Photos have been completed and we searched the pier. There doesn't appear to be any evidence to suggest that he was killed here. Could have been killed up river and floated here with the current."
"Find out," Gibbs replied curtly.
Ducky knelt by the body to begin his examination.
"Well, my dear fellow, let's take a look at you and see what you can tell us about your untimely demise," he said.
"Time of death possible, Duck?" Gibbs asked.
"Oh come now Jethro, you've seen enough corpses dragged from the river to know that it's very difficult to determine time of death at a glance," Ducky scolded mildly. "A dead human body in the water starts to sink as soon as the air in its lungs is replaced with water. Once submerged, the body stays underwater until the bacteria in the gut and chest cavity produce enough gas - methane, hydrogen sulphide, and carbon dioxide - to float it to the surface like a balloon. This can take days or weeks, depending on a number of factors."
"What about cause of death?" Gibbs asked.
"Well, I would draw your attention to the defensive bruises on his upper arms and wrists; it appears the poor fellow was restrained. I can't be more accurate until we get him back home, I'm afraid, but he'll tell me what happened, won't you, my good man?"
"I need whatever you can give me ASAP. It's no coincidence that this sailor was murdered less than half a mile from where our drug bust took place," Gibbs told the ME. "Whatever you find may lead to us to Tony."
"Of course, Jethro, I will return to head quarters and perform the autopsy with all due haste," Ducky replied as he and Jimmy quickened their pace, placed the body in a body bag and wheeled the gurney back towards the Coroner's van for the trip back to the Navy yard.
Gibbs stood stock still looking out over the water.
'Where the hell are you, Tony?'
A/N:- JAG Officer, Commander Peter Barnes, is a recurring character created for my story What Lies Beneath. That story deals with the brutal murder of his young daughter Becky and Tony's overwhelming desire for vengeance, L