A Rose for the Assassin
Disclaimer: All names and trademarks recognised as "NCIS" do not belong to me; I've just borrowed the characters.
Characters: McGee, Ziva, Abby
Genres: AU! Drama, Het, Tragedy
Warnings: Alternate Universe
Summary: AU!Timothy McGee is Thom E. Gemcity, a high profile writer of crime fiction. Ziva David is a high profile assassin, codename Shadow. Common sense predicted they'd never meet . . . fate had other ideas.
A/N Written as part of NFA's 2009 White Elephant Exchange for calalily06.
Prologue: The Shadow and the Writer
Agent Tibbs pulled his gun slowly from his holster. He motioned to Agent Tommy, signalling him to take the right. Slowly, and with all the stealthiness of a tiger hunting his prey, Tibbs inched forward. One foot after the other, Tibbs stepped down the hallway, unable to hear a sound. Creeping up to the door of apartment 2B, he swung open the door with such ferocity that . . .
"Timothy!" a female voice called as a fist pounded on the door of his hotel room. "Are you writing again? You have to be downstairs in five minutes!"
Lyndi, his publisher, burst into the room with a harried look on her face. She stood in the doorway, hands on her hips, and glared at Tim.
Timothy McGee looked up from his typewriter and shrugged. "Just getting some work done."
"Well, stop doing work and get ready!" Lyndi shrieked. "The guests are arriving and you are not wearing that!"
Tim looked down at his sweatpants and MIT sweatshirt, and sighed. As much as he loved writing, he wasn't fond of these fancy book launches Lyndi insisted he had.
"You are our star, after all," Lyndi had said one day. "And stars need star power."
Lyndi, meanwhile, had stormed over to the large wardrobe and had pulled out a black suit. Stomping over the Tim at the desk, she thrust the outfit into his hands, gave him another glare and dashed out of the room, muttering about something to do with the catering.
Tim chucked the suit onto the queen-sized bed and stood up. He glanced longingly at his typewriter, but stepped over to the bed. As much as he hated them, Tim knew he had a duty to his publishing house, as well as his sponsors and friends.
He picked up the suit trousers and slid out of his sweatpants. The suit was, obviously, brand new and selected by some stylist Lyndi had picked out for him. Tim shucked off his sweatshirt and reached for the light green dress shirt that the stylist assured him would look lovely with his eyes. He completed the look with a dark green tie and the suit jacket.
Tim glanced in the mirror as he picked up his cell phone and room card. He had to admit that the stylist had been spot on with her choices: he did look good. He walked past the mirror, flicked the light switch and closed the door with a click. Taking a deep breath, he plastered a smile on his face and stepped down the hallway.
Across town, a woman with blonde hair gracefully whisked a glass of champagne off the waiter's tray as he passed. With a dignified twirl, she turned back to the conversation at hand. With her glass in one hand, she gently caressed the shoulder of the man to her right, giggling at the unfunny joke he'd just told his clients.
Joel Hardy leaned over and kissed her on the cheek. "Have I introduced you to Ariel, my gorgeous date for tonight?"
Ariel smiled politely as she shook the two other men's hands. "I am delight to meet you," she said in her upper-class British accent.
"Ariel's involved in advertising," Joel continued, sliding his hand down her back.
"Really?" one of the men asked and Ariel nodded, her sky blue eyes shimmering in the bright light of the ballroom.
"Absolutely," Ariel replied enthusiastically. "That most recent Commodore commercial . . ." She pointed to herself and smiled.
"That was you?" the other man asked.
Ariel gave a slight nod. "I was terribly pleased with the way it turned out. It is one of my better works."
One of the men looked at his partner and said, "If you're ever up for some work, we're about to launch a new company, as you know. Headed by Joel here, of course."
Ariel giggled. "Of course. I cannot get him to shut up about it. He even mutters about it after . . . you know . . ." She smiled flirtatiously.
"Stop flirting with my clients, dear," Joel said in a mock serious tone as he squeezed her behind and nuzzled at her neck. "We wouldn't want them getting the wrong idea."
"Absolutely not." Delicately and with more grace than most women, Ariel extracted herself from Joel's grip and pulled away.
"Would any of you gentlemen care for some refreshments?" she asked, gesturing in the direction of the buffet table. "I was just about to go there myself."
Joel's clients shook their heads, but Joel replied, "I'll have one of those triangle thingies, if you don't mind."
"One feta and spinach triangle coming up," Ariel announced and then whispered in his ear, "Don't go anywhere."
Joel grinned lewdly as Ariel glided off in the direction of the refreshment table. As she left, she heard one of the men comment, "Where on earth did you score that one. She's a . . ."
Murmuring an "excuse me", Ariel walked straight past the refreshment table and over to one of the side doors, used by the staff and by people looking for the bathroom. With an inconspicuous glance around her, Ariel slipped through the door and walked silently up the hallway. She smiled a pair of elderly women as they passed and instead of entering the female toilets, she looked around before pushing open the door marked "gentlemen".
Stepping inside, Ariel was relieved to find it empty save one person. There was a cough and Ariel spun around. She projected an image being startled and said, gasping, "You scared me."
A balding man stepped out from the shadows, moving past the out-of-order toilet cubicle. He was a lot less attractive than Joel, but Ariel grinned seductively.
"I apologise, my dear."
"Mr York," Ariel replied in a low and husky voice. "You came."
"Could I ever not?" Mr York leaned in and captured Ariel's lips.
She kissed back passionately, slipping her hand up her thigh. She grasped the cool, hard grip of the gun and slid it out smoothly, hiding it behind her back.
Ariel pulled away from Mr York and said, batting her eyelashes, "And that was just for starters."
Mr York pulled at his tie and while he was distracted, Ariel whipped out the gun from behind her back and fired three rapid, silenced shots. Mr York didn't even have time to blink as he was shot twice in the chest and once smack bang in the middle of the forehead.
Ariel smiled grimly as she pulled the silencer off the gun. Clutching the pieces of the gun, Ariel crouched down in front of the out-of-order stall and pulled off the metal clip holding the doors together. She ripped off the out-of-order sign and stepped into the stall, locking it behind her.
Lifting up the seat of the toilet, Ariel pulled out a plastic bag, wincing at the toilet water on it. She opened the bag and pulled out a backpack. Quickly, quietly and efficiently, Ariel placed the gun and ripped sign in the backpack before slipping out of her slinky purple dress and pulling on a pair of jeans and a pink shirt.
Shaking her head, Ariel's blonde hair slipped off and she stuffed that into the backpack too. Leaving her eye contacts in, Ariel released her naturally dark brown hair from its bun and allowed it to dangle around her neck. She flushed the plastic bag down the toilet, slipped on a pair of pink ballet flats and unlocked the door.
Ariel paid no attention to the dead man on the floor as she checked that the hallway was clear before plastering a sweet smile on her face and stepping into the hallway, letting the door swing shut behind her. Instead of going back to the party, she walked to the end of the hall and pushed open the double doors marked "staff only".
She swung the backpack onto her shoulder, stepped into the kitchen and smiled sweetly at the nearest worker.
"I forgot my backpack," she said in a typical American accent. Ariel gestured to her backpack.
The worker laughed. "Chloe, you'd forget your head if it wasn't screwed on."
"Then lucky it is," Ariel now Chloe laughed.
The head cook looked up from her work and grinned at the sight of Chloe. "I thought you had a date tonight, dearie?"
Chloe screwed up her nose as she clasped the worker on the shoulder and walked past him. "I did . . . until I rushed out of the diner after remembering that I'd left my backpack at work."
The cook smiled sympathetically. "Aw, that's too bad, sweetie."
Chloe shrugged. "Such is life. Anyways, I'd better get going. I have the early shift tomorrow."
The worker who had greeted Chloe stuck out his tongue. "Joy for you."
"It's money, so I'm not complaining," Chloe replied as she walked to the end of the kitchen and pushed open the service door that led to the staff car park. "I'll see you guys tomorrow."
"Night, Chloe," the cook called as Chloe stepped into the cool night air.
Chloe walked over to the beat-up red Ford and manually unlocked the doors. She stuffed the backpack under the passenger seat before walking around to the driver's door and hopping in. She turned the ignition, started up the refitted CD player and reversed.
As someone screamed inside the hotel, Ziva David drove away.
Back at the book launch for Thom E. Gemcity's latest L.J Tibbs novel, Tim paused suddenly and shivered as though someone had walked over his grave. Shaking his head and putting the shiver down to the cold weather, Tim turned back to his companions.