It was 0700 and Team Gibbs was sitting in the bullpen, catching up on paperwork. Agent Vivian Blackadder, had finished hers the night before, and was now relaxing at her desk, glancing through cold case files. She liked to think herself a hardworking agent, but with the time Agent Campbell was taking to finish his report, she was finding much more time for relaxation. She was surprised Campbell had lasted this long; her boss wasn't one to stand for incompetence, and he had never been described as a patient man.
Across from her, Special Agent Patrick Campbell was working on the 5th draft of his report from the last case. The last 4 had been merely glanced at by Gibbs before being thrown back in his face.
You call this a report, Campbell? Patrick remembered his boss's words. He didn't understand. No matter what he did, Gibbs didn't appreciate him. Sure he had made yet another rookie mistake and almost caused a straightforward case to turn into a firefight when he'd broken cover to get the perp. But isn't that what being a Special Agent was? Going after the bad guys no matter the cost? It had been a dumb move, and almost cost NCIS the case, and Gibbs had saved his ass, but it had worked out. He knew he was lucky though—Blackadder had warned him that he was "this close" to getting kicked off Team Gibbs. But he honestly didn't think that reports were all that important anyways; why put 100% effort into a report when you had just put all your effort into catching the bad guys. Being a federal agent was about action, not paperwork. He thought he'd be getting that working for Team Gibbs. Speaking of Gibbs—it was 0700 and his boss wasn't at his desk yet. How come he gets to come late? He thought accusingly.
"He's a good agent, Gibbs. Just a little young. He was a very promising student in FLETC. You need to give him another chance."
Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs and Director Morrow were seated in the back of MTAC. Gibbs has put up with Campbell for 2 months now and after a number of close calls, was ready to go back to a 2 person team.
"Director, being a 'promising student' in FLETC is different from being a trustworthy agent on my team! Campbell's mistakes almost got Blackadder killed yesterday!" Gibbs said furiously.
"I understand your concerns, Gibbs. But a 2 man team is just not feasible at this time, especially not for a Major Case Response Team. Also, I'm sure Campbell will catch on. As I stated before, Special Agent Campbell received outstanding test scores in FLETC." Morrow again tried to appease the lead agent.
"That's great that he can bubble in a scantron and hit targets in a relaxed environment, but in the field, I need to have someone who can anticipate! Someone who can make the split second decision that saves a life. And someone who has my six! Tell me director, has Campbell at all showed that he is capable of this!"
Director Morrow just sighed. Gibbs was a great agent that demanded the best of his team. But he had faith in Campbell, even if Campbell had been spending the last 2 months doing his best to shake his faith in him.
"One more chance, Gibbs. A case was just called in from Baltimore. Dead petty officer, shot execution style. Take your team, find justice for the petty officer, and if Campbell gives you any more trouble, I'll have him transferred."
Gibbs gave Morrow a long glare before finally heading out the door. Without turning, Gibbs said "If Campbell does anything to mess up this case, you won't get a chance to transfer him; I'll shoot him myself." And with that, he exited MTAC, heading towards the bullpen.
"Grab your gear!" he snapped at his team…striding quickly towards the elevator and giving Ducky a quick call to inform him of the case.
"Gas the truck!" he said, throwing the keys toward Blackadder's desk. His team jumped and quickly followed him.
Once in the elevator, Gibbs turned to Campbell "Turn in whatever you got for your report when we get back."
"Yes sir!" Campbell smiled. He hadn't even had to try on that report; in each new draft he'd only changed a few words anyways. Afterall, he figured, nothing was really wrong with his report, this was just Gibbs' version of hazing.
Gibbs smiled to himself. By letting Campbell turn in those crappy reports, the Director would see how little he actually contributed. Let Morrow see what I've been dealing with. He thought. It wasn't that he wished to be intentionally malicious towards Campbell, but he couldn't lose lives because of sloppy work. And that was what Campbell was, sloppy. Not that Blackadder was much better, but she, unlike Campbell, tried to learn from her mistakes. And although she wasn't the best agent he'd worked with, she had his six, which was more than he could say for Campbell. But he still really needed a great agent. He never thought he'd miss Burley this much, and every time he looked at his team he was sorely reminded how much he needed a Senior Field Agent to watch his six.
By the time Gibbs pulled the NCIS sedan to a halt in front of the warehouse, Blackadder and Campbell had turned an interesting shade of green.
"Blackadder, shoot and sketch! Campbell, bag and tag! And when Ducky gets here, tell him to use any means necessary…we are taking this body, and the case!"
Gibbs didn't wait for them as he quickly made his way under the crime scene tape, looking for whoever was in charge. He knew he was in for a jurisdiction battle, but there was a reason his second 'B' stood for Bastard, and there was no way he wasn't taking lead on this case.
He was soon approached by a middle-aged man, wearing a suit with a detective badge hanging around his neck.
"Ah, Special Agent…?" the Detective questioned, giving him a friendly smile that didn't quite meet his eyes.
"Gibbs," he finished for him, before fixing him with his famous glare. The middle aged man backed down a little, but not much, refusing to be intimidated by the ex-marine's persona.
"Detective Aaron Cook, Baltimore Homicide. Body was found at 0630 this morning by a homeless fellow. We arrived on scene and noticed his dogtags. We realized he was one of yours and the rest is history." He said this last statement with a hint of antagonism. He obviously wasn't happy about the Feds encroaching on his crime scene.
"Did you touch the body?" Gibbs asked, ignoring the tone of the last statement.
"This isn't my first crime scene, Agent Gibbs." Detective Cook countered back, offended at what the Fed was insinuating
"Just making sure our bases are covered. If you could just point me in the direction of the witness, we can take over now." Gibbs replied smoothly.
The Detective's face changed quickly from a fake smile, to a hard glare, but Gibbs detected something else in his eyes. Was that…worry?
"With all due respect Agent Gibbs, I'd like to be a part of this investigation as well…" he was cut off by the ringing of his phone. "Excuse me for one second, I have to take this," he said, moving to the outskirts of the scene. Gibbs frowned. That wasn't what he'd been expecting the Detective to say. He didn't demand lead, in fact, he probably knew that Gibbs would almost be guaranteed the lead. Instead, he had wanted to "help" with the investigation. Not a normal reaction for a Detective getting kicked off a case he obviously wanted to work. Gibbs shrugged; it didn't matter, he had the case.
"Campbell!" He barked, smiling as he saw the agent jump up like a scared rabbit. "Go find the witness, take his statement."
"But boss, Baltimore PD already took his statement and even if they hadn't, I don't know where he is."
Gibbs, shook his head; Campbell would never make it on his team. "Then FIND him, Campbell! Show a little initiative and ask the officers where he is. And NCIS doesn't rely on other department's witness statements; never assume they already got all the information!"
Gibbs strode back over to where Detective Cook had just hung up his phone, both men wearing equally stormy expressions. "Problems?" Agent Gibbs asked the Detective
"Your case!" He snapped, still looking angrily at his cell.
"I appreciate it, Detective. Oh, and we found the witness, so we won't be needing any further assistance." He said, turning away and heading toward Ducky, who was already telling their dead marine an 'interesting' story.
"Agent Gibbs," Gibbs turned around, once again facing the Detective, who had a different look on his face. Worry, again. Gibbs eyed him questioningly.
"Look, I know it's your lead, but I've got a stake in this too." He paused, as if unsure how to continue. "I know you have to do your thing, and conduct the investigation in your own way, but if you could at least keep me informed of your progress, I'd appreciate it. We may not see eye to eye, but I want this case solved too, and I'm willing to…help, in any way possible…" he paused again, looking at Gibbs.
Gibbs could tell this wasn't natural for him. Even in his brief encounter with him today, he had developed a grudging respect for him.
"A personal stake?" Gibbs asked, hoping to draw a little more out of him.
"I'm not at liberty to say, Agent Gibbs. I received a direct order. But know this…this murder, it's a lot bigger than it seems. I want to help you."
"Are you holding back information, Detective?" Gibbs fumed. "Because I'm not a patient man and I will not stand for that."
"No. At least it is not my intention, Agent Gibbs. However, I have a hunch…call it a gut feeling, that there's more to this than meets the eye."
"You want to help us, Detective? Then get me the security tapes from this warehouse…all of them." Gibbs said, unsure of why he was taking this guy up on his offer, but his gut was churning as well.
"Will do. I'll have them for you in a few hours." Detective Cook asked.
"I'll come by the station." Gibbs replied.
"I'm not so sure that's a good idea. I'm not supposed to be involved with this. Let's just say…my Captain doesn't share my feeling about this case." The Detective said, a little unsure of himself.
"Then email them me at the Navy Yard. My team and I will take a look at them tomorrow."
"Consider it done, Agent Gibbs." Detective Cook said, making his way back to his car.
Gibbs frowned. He didn't mind an ally in the local PD, but he didn't like the way Detective Cook was acting. Something was definitely…hinky, as Abby would say. He would get to the bottom of this.
"What've we got, Duck?" Gibbs asked, crouching down by the prone body.
"Well Jethro, it seems this poor lad was shot in the back of the head, execution style. Died almost instantly. His wound reminds me of a time in Uganda, I was examining the body of a young villager who seemed to have gotten on the bad side of the wrong person…"
"Duck." Gibbs said, exasperated. Doctor Mallard was a brilliant ME and a good friend, but his stories were enough to drive Gibbs insane.
"Sorry, Jethro. As I was saying, a gunshot wound to the back of the head was most certainly the cause of death. And the temperature in the liver estimates the time of death at about 0100 this morning."
"Do we have a name?" Gibbs asked, glancing at the dog tags.
"Ah yes, Petty Officer Christopher Morrow"
"Thanks Duck. Let's pack him up and get back to the Navy Yard. Blackadder and Campbell, I want you to find out everything you can about this Petty Officer Morrow when we get back."
"Got it, boss." They both said in unison. They gathered the gear and made their way back to the car, mentally preparing themselves for the stomach-emptying drive to the Navy Yard.
Back at his desk, Detective Cook worked on acquiring the security tapes from the warehouse. He knew it was risky. The captain had told him to stay out if it, but he wasn't going to stand back while the department screwed his partner over. Plus, it was a completely legitimate task to carry out in a murder investigation. Security tapes could provide identifications and help close investigations, and could also be useful for timelines. Gibbs wanted the tapes for that night, but Aaron decided to give him a little something extra. Sure, he was under direct orders not to say something, but he could show them. He knew his hunch was more than just that. It was well-founded—there was no way that this murder, occurring in the warehouse, had nothing to do with his partner's undercover mission. If he went along with his chief's belief that they were in no way connected, he was letting the Feds walk unknowingly into 2 months of hard undercover work, which would most likely jeopardize the mission, and his partner's life. He quickly sent the newly acquired tapes, not only the ones from last night, but he included the ones from the last 2 weeks as well. His partner had put everything into this mission, and he was going to make sure he came out alive.