For the last couple of years, the Mallard Estate had its quiet times. Especially since Mrs. Mallard moving out of home and her eventual passing. But on this day it was buzzing with activity. With the Hernandez and Mexico saga behind them, Team Gibbs could concentrate on what's going on around the corner.
"We're still waiting on a couple of others," Ducky gave the reason as to why they weren't in full swing party mode yet.
Team Gibbs, Jackson and Ducky were celebrating their victory. Abby opened the door after hearing the knocking. Stan Burley entered, carrying a carton of beer on his shoulder. Everybody was ready to celebrate hard. On top of that, Gibbs wanted to know the whole story. His team had done what he had been training them to do and then more… Even though he hadn't come right out and say it, he was damn proud of his team. They had learned well.
"Hey Stan," Gibbs greeted as they stocked the refrigerator.
"I have extended an invitation to Lewis… The Pilot. From what I heard from Timothy and Ziva, he played an important part. Though he couldn't guarantee being on time," Ducky said.
"The more the merrier," Abby commented in a chirpy voice.
There was something about the pilot that McGee just didn't like. At times, Lewis was unnaturally calm and while other times he was very defensive.
"Guess that's him now," Ducky said as he went to answer the door.
"I know I'm late," Lewis said as he dropped the carton of pre-mixed Johnny Walker cans onto the table. "Turn the news on," he said while pointing to the small television set on the counter.
Another news alert was coming through. The reporter, Rick Leviathan stood outside a government building dressed in his trademark blue shirt. "This is a ZNN Alert," He said. The name Paloma Reynosa appeared on the bottom of the screen. "I'm Rick Leviathan. At approximately 1900 hrs last night… Seven pm. A light airplane, a Cessna crashed on the Mexican side of the Mexico US border. According to the passenger manifest and Mexican authorities one of the passengers was Paloma Reynosa… For those not familiar with Mexico's criminal element… Paloma Reynosa took control of the Hernandez Cartel after her father, Pedro Hernandez was gunned down… This is a statement issued by the Mexican Authorities…
"Even though an accident, the death of Paloma Reynosa has struck a powerful blow for the side of the Law. Like a decapitated chicken there is no control. We are not declaring this a victory over the Cartel since chicken's become unpredictable once there head has been severed and therefore even more vigilance will be exercised… We will continue to approach this situation with aggressive caution," Rick read from the piece of paper.
"What happened to you?" McGee asked, pointing to an area of broken skin on Lewis' cheek.
"Got in a dust up at a bar," Lewis answered quickly as he caught the bottle opener and opened a bottle in one fluid motion. "Great way to relieve stress but it's usually damn well frowned upon by brass," Lewis laughed.
"So anyone going to tell me what went down?" Gibbs asked.
"Hard to say exactly," Tony was the first one to answer. He remembered being held prisoner in Mexico and then waking up in Bethesda.
McGee picked up the conversation. "We didn't know a thing was wrong 'til we got a call from Bethesda about someone trying to hack Tony's medical records. So Vance, Abby, Me and Ziva flooded the hospital's computers to buy us enough time to trace the source," McGee explained.
"That was when Lewis, me and a team went and extracted Tony. We were fortunate to have assistance and a green light from Mexico," Ziva added.
Lewis had cleared his throat a couple of times. There were some things that needed to be kept secret. Ducky saw the reaction. "Anything said within these walls will never be repeated. You can speak freely. You'd never believe the secrets kept by the walls," Ducky said. People outside the close knit group usually couldn't understand the goings on.
"After hearing that you handed yourself in, Boss… We assumed that someone was also threatening your father so we followed him around while we managed to convince Tony to stay hidden for awhile," McGee said.
"And that's why I kept taking you around every chance I got," Abby piped up.
"That wasn't working. So that's when I got permission to bring Stan back so he could tail Jackson since the people may not have recognized him," Ducky said.
"Tailing someone to spot their tailors while trying to remain unspotted yourself is more harder than it sounds. You move around a lot, Jackson. It wasn't until I followed him to his hotel that we found them," Stan answered.
"We ended up in a shootout in the hotel hallway and eventually subdued the people who worked for Paloma," Ziva added.
"Tim here got a ball and wrapped it in al-foil then rolled it towards them and yelled out 'Fire-in-the-hole' well, I never seen anybody dive out the way so quickly," Stan said. His tone growing in excitement as he relayed the events.
"So then we actually took Reynosa's men to a rendezvous and handed the prisoners over. Fortunately they were very well behaved in the Chopper and talked things over with the authority rep," Lewis said.
"He kept them in line by threatening to send them cartwheeling out of the helicopter," Ziva chimed in.
"It works… Thankfully, average Joe Citizen can't tell the difference between a Belle Huey and a Blackhawk that's high up. So we were able to virtually sneak around," Lewis added as he took another drink.
"So when we came into the courtroom and caused all that ruckus… Franks actually told us that they were going to release information about Alejandro's death and forcibly extract Paloma to deal with her. So we actually went like we did as to minimize any chance of extra damage caused if things went sour. In other words, let Paloma go out on her own," Tony said.
"I was trying to give you hints that Tony was okay, Gibbs," Abby said.
"The bag on the seat," Gibbs nodded. That made sense now.
They stood around the table the large counter. The rest of the celebration had turned into nothing more than drinking. Soon it was almost time to call it a night. Each of those that were responsible in the main plan and immediately around it. They raised their drinks in a form of a salute too each other. With the events all wrapped up, they felt able to move on and close this chapter…