A/N: For the past few weeks I haven't been able to get this plot bunny out of my head. Originally it was supposed to be mainly fluff, but two days and countless re-writes later it has taken on a mind of it's own, what's a girl to do?
I don't own NCIS or any of it's characters.
Leaning back in his chair Tony all but threw his feet onto his desk, his shoes clunking loudly against the wood and tilted his chair on it's axis, whistling tunelessly as he did so. McGee looked up from his computer. "Good weekend?"
Clasping his hands behind his head, Tony smirked. "You could say that. I went out with Celina."
Frowning McGee asked. "Was that the blonde who turned up at the bar on Friday night?"
"That's the one."
"You mean the one who threw a drink over you and called you a creep."
"That was just a small misunderstanding. Anyway she made up for it all day Saturday……and most of Sunday for that matter."
Ziva just tutted under her breath, while McGee's eyebrows knitted further together in confusion. "I thought you were going to break up with her?"
"I am. But Friday night was just the mini break-up", At McGee's still confused frown Tony sighed. "You know. The one that leads up to the actual break-up."
"Never heard of it."
Tony shook his head in dismay. "Oh Probie what are we going to do with you? I just don't know, so innocent it's scary."
Refusing to rise to the bait McGee turned his attention back to computer screen, muttering under his breath. Tony chuckled to himself and shooting a grin over at Ziva he closed his eyes and continued to rock gently back and forward in his chair.
Her lips tightly pursed, Ziva looked over at McGee who just rolled his eyes and shrugged. He'd known Tony for four years now and was well versed in the supposedly senior Agent's antics. Ziva turned her attention back to the dozing Agent and her lips curved into an evil half smile. She slowly and silently began to push her chair out from her desk and jumped swiftly to her feet, she was halfway over to him when the door to the Director's office flew open and Vance came storming out. Tony jumped awake at the sound of the heavy wooden door slamming against the wall. His eyes wide with terror, as if he fully expected to see Gibbs descend upon him, instead he met Ziva's eyes and frowned. "Why are you so close to my desk?"
Ziva shrugged innocently as she replied, "No reason, and headed back over to her desk, just as Vance began to descend down the stairs into the bullpen.
Tony was still looking suspiciously over at Ziva, when Vance loomed over him, his jaw clenched so tight that his customary toothpick was jutting out at a ninety degree angle. Sending a quick and anxious glance in the direction of his team-mates, Tony asked. "Anything we can help you with Director?"
Vance yanked the toothpick out of his mouth. "Where's Gibbs?"
"He's not in yet, or if he is then none of us have seen him."
"Well when he does decide to grace us with his presence, tell him that I want to see him in MTAC immediately. Understood?" He looked around the entire team to check they had heard his instructions, they all simply nodded in reply, "Good." With that he turned on his heel and stormed back up the stairs.
The second that Vance was safely ensconced in MTAC, Tony turned to the others. "What do you think Gibbs has done now?"
McGee shrugged, while Ziva looked slightly perplexed. "Nothing I can think of. We haven't had a case in almost a week, he really hasn't had the chance to piss anyone off."
"True, although if anyone can manage it it's Gibbs." With that Tony leaned back in his chair again, his mind whirring with possibilities.
As fate would have it they didn't have to wait long for Gibbs to make his appearance. Just ten minutes later the elevator doors pinged open, and Gibbs stepped out--coffee in hand. Tony raised his eyebrows at Ziva and nodded his head in the boss's direction, silently asking her to let Gibbs know he was wanted elsewhere. Ziva just grinned and shook her head. In desperation Tony looked over at McGee's desk, only to find the younger Agent was studiously ignoring him. Tony groaned inwardly, he always got stuck with the task of telling Gibbs any unpleasant news, and he was certain that the Director requesting an audience with him wouldn't go down well.
"Morning Boss." Gibbs didn't reply and continued to head towards his own desk. Taking a deep breath Tony tried again. "Boss, the Director wants to see you in MTAC."
At this Gibbs looked up, his brow furrowed slightly. "Why?"
"He didn't say."
His grip tightening around his coffee cup, Gibbs grumbled under his breath and began to move swiftly up the stairs, taking them almost two at a time. As he went Gibbs couldn't help but wonder what this was about. Normally Vance only wanted to see him to rant about inter-agency co-operation, but since those chats only ever took place in his office Gibbs knew that this had to be about something else, and he doubted it was good news. He took a gulp of his coffee before leaning down slightly, letting the iris scanner confirm his I.D.
Gibbs took a deep breath as he stepped into MTAC, in all honesty he really didn't want to have to face Vance today. It wasn't so much that he disliked the man, it was just they had very different ideas about what an NCIS Agent should be like, and Gibbs knew that he was the complete opposite of Vance's ideal. Pausing at the top step Gibbs let his eyes adjust to the permanent gloom that seemed to reside in MTAC and scanned the rows looking for Vance. He wasn't overly surprised to see him sitting in the middle seat of the middle row. Shuffling along the row, Gibbs sat down in the seat next to him. "You wanted to see me Sir."
Vance didn't even turn his head in acknowledgment of Gibbs's presence, instead he just nodded his head in the direction of one of the techs, and the images began to filter onto the large screen that dominated the room. Gibbs's eyes narrowed as he studied the image of the man currently on screen. It was military photo of an older man, probably late sixties, early seventies. As always in these pictures the man was unsmiling, his lips set in a tight line, his green eyes cold and almost calculating. Vance nodded towards the screen. "Lieutenant Colonel Jasper Sheppard of the United States Navy. Retired eleven years ago and took up a post at Cal-tech industries."
"Should I have heard of them?"
A ghost of a smile fluttered over Vance's face. "Most people in this business have. They are the military's main supplier of both weapons and tracking devices. Around three years ago we began to suspect that Jasper Sheppard was skimming the top off the company profits. Further investigation found a computer program designed to take 0.1% off every third payment that passed through the company. They managed to shut down the program, but not before the company lost over twelve million dollars."
"You track the money down?"
"No, we tried, but whoever set it up managed to block us at every turn and we couldn't trace the account the money had been transferred into."
"You don't think the Colonel set it up?"
"No. He was good, but not that good. The company was convinced he was involved though, they just couldn't prove it. Then almost four months ago a shipment of AK 45's and ballistic missiles vanished. Rumours began to circulate that the weapons were going to be placed for sale on the black-market."
Gibbs sipped at his coffee again, his eyes narrowed. "I take it you found the weapons?"
"No. Less than a week after they disappeared Jasper Sheppard took a tumble down a flight stairs in his home, broke his neck and died instantly."
"Didn't appear to be. No signs of a struggle, and the carpet at the top of the stairs was loose. Sheppard never got the chance to sell the weapons. We tried to get a warrant to go through his estate, find out what happened to them, but we didn't have enough evidence to secure one. The chatter died down though and it was thought that no-one else knew what had happened to them. We continued to keep our eyes open for them, but it appeared that knowledge of their hiding place died with Sheppard. Unfortunately it appears we were wrong. We've heard that there is new bidding war taking place for the weapons. I don't think I need to tell you just how disastrous it could be for us if these weapons fell into the wrong hands."
Gibbs shook his head before asking. "So who do we think knows there hiding place?"
A new picture appeared on screen, this one was from a Cal-tech I.D. pass, and showed a startlingly attractive redhead, "Jennifer Sheppard, daughter of the deceased. Graduated from M.I.T. and from all accounts is a computer genius, we thought she may have been the one responsible for the computer program. We questioned her, but we didn't get anything out of her."
"She still at Cal-tech?"
Vance gave a small chuckle. "Funnily enough she resigned only weeks into the investigation for the missing money. Went and got her teaching degree, for the past year she has worked as a computing teacher at Baltimore Polytechnic."
Gibbs's eyes narrowed. "You think she was trying to distance herself?"
"Yes. The woman had a reputation for being fiercely ambitious and was the best in the business. I don't think she would give up a six figure salary and the all the glory without a good reason, and staying out of jail seems a pretty good reason. We think she found out where her father stored the weapons while she was sorting out his estate and has decided to make herself a tidy little profit on them. We've had Agents watching her since her father's death, but they've yet to find anything and to be honest we can't waste much more time, we need to find those weapons."
"I still don't see where I come into this."
"It's not enough just to have Agents watching this woman, we need to get someone close to her. We need someone undercover."
"I hope you don't mean me."
Vance sent a glare in Gibbs's direction, "I do actually. You've got enough experience in the field and I saw from your file that you spent two years doing undercover work."
"That was a while ago."
Waving his hand dismissively, Vance replied, "You never forget these things. You'll report directly to me, although the Agents already in place will continue to monitor her movements and if needed will act as your back-up. That being said this will primarily be a solo op."
"Just how close do you want me to get?"
"As close as it takes."
"And what exactly do you suggest sending me undercover as?"
At the question Vance's lips curled into a smile and he turned his head away from Gibb's glare, "P.E. teacher."
"It's all been arranged. The Principal has been informed that you will be starting on Monday. We've got you a car and a flat in Baltimore, I'll also give you the weekend off to get everything in order."
"How generous." Gibbs muttered, "And what about my team?"
"They'll be staying here. As far as they'll be concerned you decided to take sometime off."
"They won't believe that."
"I heard Hollis Mann retired to Hawaii."
Gibbs frowned at the change in subject, the cogs in his head churning away, he wasn't sure he was going to like what was coming next. "Yeah, she did."
"If you're team ask why you requested leave, which I'm sure they will, just tell them you are visiting someone. I'm sure they will draw a logical conclusion. I am also sure that Agent Dinozzo will cope during this absence as well as he did last year." Vance turned to face Gibbs. "I want to make one thing clear Agent Gibbs, you do not get a choice in this matter, this mission is an order, you will be going."