This is a companion piece to Volatility and Victory. You do not have to read that one to understand this one, although I hope you read both at once. Both stories are happening simultaneously. One chapter counts for one day and thus updates will be daily.
Chapter 1: Prologue
Leroy Jethro Gibbs was fed up of the inane squabbling between the members of his team. It was as though he was a kindergarten teacher, not a Special Agent with years of experience under his belt and a team of his own.
It was all Tony's fault. The agent still hadn't learnt that annoying a Mossad assassin was a bad move. While Ziva mused aloud on the most painful way to kill someone, McGee was trying to stay out of the way and Tony continued to wind her up. At the rate this was going, Ducky was going to be provided with a body to autopsy by the end of the day.
He wasn't in the mood to keep them in line either. Instead, he was trying to work out which one of them to kill first. Tony was currently top of his list, but Ziva was a close second and McGee had temporarily been on top after managing to simultaneously aggravate the other two.
Fed up with the constant bickering, he decided to go and visit Jenny. She wasn't in a good mood either, but there was a chance he could change that.
In between all their arguing, his team had somehow come up with a new suspect in their current case. Gibbs certainly didn't trust them to go and question the man themselves; in all probability, one of them would be dead before they even arrived. If he left them to their own devices in the squad room, he couldn't be blamed for any mess.
Still, he needed some form of backup. His old partner needed to spend some time away from her office. It made sense to drag her along.
Although it helped if they were talking. They had been arguing over the most stupid things recently. He wasn't sure what it was, but they couldn't seem to be in a room together without accusations flying.
Wondering if it was something in the air that was causing so many problems, Gibbs rose from his chair and headed towards the stairs. Perhaps he could talk to Abby about it later. She seemed to be the only one unaffected – even Ducky had been spotted snapping at Palmer.
With Cynthia nowhere to be seen, he barged directly into Jenny's office. It helped to catch her off guard sometimes.
As expected, she glared at him. "If we're picking up where we left off yesterday…" she warned.
"Nope," he replied.
"Because I am not dealing with the media if you've punched another reporter…" She seemed to realize his earlier answer. "Something I can help you with, Agent Gibbs?"
He tried not to wince. 'Agent Gibbs' meant he was in a lot of trouble. He did not plan to tell her why he'd punched the reporter – idiot that he was for suggesting that Jenny wasn't capable of doing her job because she was a woman. Fortunately, Jenny had missed the comment or he would be the one trying to limit the media damage.
"Richard Matheson," he told her. "Name's cropped up too many times in the Fenig case for it to be coincidence."
Jenny shook her head. "Never heard of him."
"Need a partner for the afternoon," he continued.
"You have a team for that," she pointed out. "I have paperwork."
It was his turn to shake his head. "Paperwork can wait. You used to enjoy going into the field."
She glared at him. "We arrest him and I come straight back," she offered.
"Deal," he answered.
Jennifer Shepard caught her old partner's eye as they stood either side of the front door.
She wasn't entirely sure why she had agreed to come along. Part of it was due to wanting to be out in the field again, but another part of her wanted them to stop fighting and get back to normal.
She did enjoy their usual playful banter, and she knew she had to chew him out as his boss sometimes. Nevertheless, they seemed to be fighting for the sake of fighting at the moment. She might want it to be over, but she didn't know where to start.
Providing him with backup was something, she supposed. The man needed backup, given how often he managed to end up in deep water on routine jobs. And if they were relying on each other, they couldn't kill the other in the process.
He nodded to her just before he kicked the door in. She rolled her eyes. Typical Jethro – announcing himself would take up far too much time for him.
She followed him into the house, quickly checking the rooms. Empty, empty, empty, empty…
"Jen," came the call.
After checking her final room, she headed towards his voice. "No sign of him," she called.
"I've got him."
She rounded the corner to find a body on the kitchen floor, Jethro standing nearby.
"Matheson?" she asked.
Richard Matheson was lying on his stomach, his head twisted to one side. His mouth was hidden by the sheer amount of blood that was around it. Without touching him, Jenny couldn't see any other signs of injury.
"Called Ducky?" she inquired.
"Might as well poke around first," he shrugged. "Matheson's not going anywhere."
She glanced over at the plate on the kitchen table. "Looks like he wasn't expecting anyone."
Gibbs was already examining the back door as carefully as he could without touching it. "Doors were locked," he noted.
"And there were no windows open when we arrived," Jenny recalled. "Natural death?"
Gibbs pointed at the blood around Matheson's mouth.
"Probably not a natural death," she agreed. "I've never seen a poison that works like this."
"Abby'll be able to identify it," he commented.
A noise from the direction of the front door caught her attention, and her hand reached for her gun. A glance across to Gibbs showed that he had also heard it.
She was not expected what rounded the door.
"CDC," announced the hazmat suited being. "How long have you been in here?"
"Less than five minutes," Jenny offered. "How long have you been outside?"
"We've only just arrived," the being answered. Jenny couldn't even guess as to whether she was talking to a man or a woman. "We have reason to believe that there is a biological hazard in this house and you may have been exposed."
"We've been here for less than five minutes," Gibbs pointed out.
"Be that as it may, we need to quarantine you for your own safety," came the reply.
"I am the Director of NCIS," Jenny began. "I have a lot of work to do. We haven't touched anything and we are not being quarantined."
"Ma'am, with all due respect, you could contaminate most of your agency before you dropped down dead at your desk," the being told her. "Both of you need to come with us."
Jenny groaned. She couldn't see a way out of this. As she and Gibbs followed the creature through the house, she could see other people in hazmat suits.
She was going to kill Jethro for this.