I really need to be better about maintaining this story. No excuses. I'm just really prone to procrastination. Sorry.
The sun was beginning to set by the time the MCRT truck pulled into the NCIS garage. McGee hopped out of passenger seat and jogged around to the back for the crates full of evidence while Gibbs moved a little more slowly.
"I'll take these over to Abby," McGee said as he grabbed the first crate.
Gibbs' answer surprised McGee. The young agent slowly set down the crate he'd been holding and waited for further instructions.
"Abby's not here yet," Gibbs said. "Get to work on the composite sketch of the guy that attacked Jordan. Find him"
"Alright…" McGee replied, confused. Abby wasn't at work yet? And how did Gibbs know that? He'd been working with the man for nearly seven years and still couldn't figure out Gibbs' near-psychic abilities.
But this wasn't the time or place to start asking questions. Even now, with his hesitation, McGee was risking a slap upside the head.
"I'll start checking security and traffic cams in the vicinity of Ziva's building and compare the people I see to the sketch."
Gibbs just said, "I'll be in Autopsy," and headed for the elevator.
McGee took that as a sign for him to follow and get to his desk ASAP.
Ducky was taking a look at some x-rays, while Jimmy was sorting some jars onto a trolley in between the examination tables, when Gibbs strode through the door.
"Ah, Jethro," Ducky greeted his old friend. "I've been waiting for you. A bit longer than usual, but then you are a bit short on people, aren't you?"
Gibbs, as usual, ignored Ducky's attempts at distracting him from the task at hand and got straight to the point.
"What've you got for me, Duck?"
The medical examiner sighed silently and turned away from the x-rays and to the two bodies lying on his exam tables. Jimmy moved out of the way and found something else to do so that Ducky and Gibbs could move about freely.
"Messrs. Woods and Thomas," Ducky said, walking between the two charred bodies. "Their bodies show all usual signs of being in an explosion. They were peppered with wood, glass, plastic, and other assorted pieces of household debris."
Ducky waved a hand over the large number of jars on the trolley Jimmy had been working on. They each contained the various objects Ducky had pulled from the bodies.
"As you can see, their faces were badly burned. I needed to use dental records in order to identify them."
He turned to the body on his left-it had several visible dents in its skull-and began to describe how that person had died. "Mr. Woods, here, died from a combination of major blunt force trauma to his head and concussion damage to his internal organs while Mr. Thomas," Ducky did an about-face towards the other body. "Suffocated."
He looked towards Gibbs to see if that got a reaction out of his friend.
It didn't, so Ducky went on to explain how the man had suffocated: "His throat and lungs were seared shut by the heat. Not a particularly pleasant way to go, I would imagine."
Autopsy lapsed into silence. Gibbs and Ducky stared at each other while Jimmy typed away at the computer in the corner, conscious of the tension that seemed to be brewing between the two men and trying to be as inconspicuous as possible.
"I don't know how much more I can tell you, Jethro," Ducky finally said. "The mystery here isn't who, where, when, with what, and how, but why?"
The ME cast a sidelong glance at the back of his assistant's head and added, quietly, "And I'm certain we both have a strong hunch about the why."
Gibbs didn't answer immediately, but finally asked, "How's Jordan doing?"
Ducky resisted the urge to roll his eyes at the obtuse way his friend changed the subject, but conceded to the fact that this wasn't exactly the place to be discussing such matters.
"She's in the conference room, still shaken up," he replied. "Although the full weight of what's been occurring hasn't hit her just yet."
Any sort of conversation that could have occurred was interrupted by Abby's voice calling out as the doors to Autopsy swung open and in came Tony, taking long strides.
"Tony! Slow down!" the forensic scientist pleaded as she followed her friend, only to run into his back and fall onto her backside when Tony came to an abrupt stop.
Tony didn't even register Abby's running into his back as he stared at the bodies on the exam table with wide eyes.
"Oh God…" He took a hesitant step forward while pointing with his good arm. "Is that…?"
Ducky was quick to reassure Tony, pushing past Gibbs to get to the younger agent.
"No, it isn't Anthony," Ducky reached Tony and placed a gentle hand on his uninjured shoulder. "Ziva wasn't anywhere near her apartment when this occurred."
"You're sure?" Tony asked, fighting to keep his voice steady.
"Yes," Ducky nodded gravely.
Tony's eyes didn't stray from the exam tables. "How can you be sure?"
"For one thing," Ducky replied. "They're both men."
Gibbs, meanwhile, had walked over to where Abby was sprawled on the floor. He bent down and offered her his hand.
"Sorry, Gibbs," Abby said as Gibbs hauled her to her feet. "He was going to come here no matter what."
"I know," Gibbs reassured her as he helped Abby straighten her clothing.
Abby was grateful for the fact that she'd decided to wear jeans instead of a skirt this morning because her legs had splayed out in a rather unladylike fashion when she fell. From where Jimmy was standing, he would have probably gotten an eyeful.
Abby looked over at the bodies herself and, in an uncharacteristically tiny voice, asked Gibbs, "Ziva's not here. Right?"
Gibbs shook his head. "She's not."
"What's going on?"
Gibbs patted Abby down one last time and said, "Still figuring that out myself, Abs."
He left Abby's side and took a few steps to Tony's side.
"Go home," Gibbs said quietly.
Tony turned his head to look at his supervisor and hissed, "Like hell I am, Gibbs."
"You have surgery tomorrow," Gibbs replied with an even voice.
But Tony wasn't swayed. "I'll reschedule," he retorted.
"No you're not," Gibbs shot back.
Ducky decided to intervene. These were two very strong personalities that were about to go head-to-head and it was obvious that Tony wasn't in the mood to play the part of the acquiescent fool.
"Tony," the medical examiner interjected just as the man was taking a breath to say something (probably regrettable) back. He kept his voice low and steady so as not to escalate the situation any further. "Jethro is right. You should go home in preparation for your operation tomorrow morning."
Tony shot Ducky a glare and his gaze shot between the ME and Gibbs before growling out, "Fine."
He spun on his heel, wobbling somewhat because his arm was in a sling, and sidestepped around Abby to head to the elevator.
Ducky turned to Jimmy and said, "There's nothing more you need to do here. Why don't you take Tony home and make sure he doesn't eat anything until he gets to the hospital?"
Jimmy nodded and replied, "Of course, Doctor Mallard."
He hurriedly pulled off his smock and jogged out of Autopsy to get into the elevator with Tony just as the doors began to close. He was still wearing scrubs but had his gym clothes in his car. He could throw the smelly t-shirt and shorts into the wash and change into them once he drove Tony and himself to his friend's apartment.
Meanwhile, Autopsy had gone silent. The hum of the freezer units and the building's central air-conditioning seemed deafening as Abby and Ducky's eyes turned towards Gibbs, looking for answers and guidance as to what to do next.
But the ringing of Gibbs' cell phone saved him from having to do any reassuring.
"Yeah. Gibbs…Be right there."
No matter how many times he experienced it for himself, NCIS Director Leon Vance still found himself annoyed whenever Gibbs threw open the doors to his office and barged in like he owned the place.
"You called, Leon?" Gibbs said, his tone making it clear that he had better things to do.
Vance often wondered at what point Gibbs decided that he would no longer care about normal social niceties, but today, he got straight to the point.
"I've been getting calls all day from DC Metro, Homeland, FBI, ATF, and pretty much every other government agency with an acronym wanting to take over this case," Vance said, his own tone making it clear that he did not appreciate being called in on a Sunday, not when he'd been in the middle of treating his son's sports team to a celebratory dinner. "Meanwhile, I find out that the woman who is currently a person of interest in said case is currently holed up in the State Department and I can't get through to anyone senior enough to be useful over there. How bad is it?"
"Oh, it's bad," Gibbs answered, as if his simple reply would explain everything.
This just served to annoy Vance. "You've got to be more specific than that, Gibbs."
"We've gone to war for less, Leon."
"My god." Vance leaned heavily back in his chair and rubbed at his mustache. "SecNav was halfway over the Pacific en route to Japan. He's turned his plane around and is-"
Gibbs phone rang once again, interrupting Vance mid-sentence. He pulled it from his belt without giving much thought to the way Vance's nostrils flared.
"Yeah. Gibbs." He listened to the person on the other end before perfunctorily snapping his phone shut. "McGee's got something."
McGee craned his neck from his desk so that he could see the people on the catwalk above the bullpen, trying to see if Gibbs was coming down in response to his call. Eventually, however, his neck began to hurt, so he turned in his chair to face his computer monitor in order to ease his tense muscles.
He let out a soft groan as he used one hand to massage his neck and ended up practically jumping out of his chair when he heard Gibbs say, "What've you got, McGee?"
"Boss! Director," McGee stammered when he saw the two men standing in front of his desk. He continued, while still flustered, to speak. "I've been going through footage from the different cameras around Ziva's building and trying to match people to the composite sketch we got from Dr. Hampton's description. I saw a couple of people who could be a match and ran them through the facial recognition software."
There was a beat when the three men just looked at each other before Gibbs prodded with an annoyed, "And?"
McGee's eyebrows shot up as he realized that he hadn't finished he report. "Oh! I got a positive match and it's interesting."
Gibbs jerked his chin upwards and said, "Put it up on the plasma."
McGee typed a command onto his keyboard and a passport photo appeared on the plasma screen next to his desk.
"Ahmet Hadar," McGee read from the dossier he had on his computer. "Cultural Attaché at the Israeli Embassy. He's been stationed here in DC since January."
"Cultural Attaché my ass," Vance interjected almost angrily. "I've worked with him before. The man's Mossad. Specialized in wet work as well as cleaning up other operatives' messes."
Gibbs turned towards Vance and said, "He's got an official cover."
To which Vance replied, "Which means he has diplomatic immunity."
The men lapsed into silence as they considered the ramifications of what they'd just found out.
"Why the hell is Mossad going after their own?" Vance asked to no one in particular. "They usually go to the ends of the earth to protect each other. What has David gotten herself into?"
"I-I-I'd have no idea, Director," McGee said from where he sat at his desk.
Vance shot him a glare and snapped, "I wasn't talking to you."
Gibbs turned towards the Director and quietly said, in a tone that bordered on snide, "Maybe you should ask Ziva herself."
Vance just let out a low growl from the back of his throat and stalked off towards his office, leaving McGee and Gibbs to watch his progress through the bullpen and up the stairs to the catwalk.
Once Vance was out of sight, McGee looked at Gibbs, who had his back turned to him, and asked, "Wet work, Boss?"
Gibbs didn't turn around when he answered simply with, "Assassinations made to look like something other than murder, McGee."
And a beat later, he added, "Get that evidence over to Abby."