Uh, so. Yeah. Long time, no post. I have been extremely busy and this chapter has been excruciating to write. I grovel now. Thank you for your patience.
Disclaimer: Out of this story, all I own is the plot. The NCIS characters and setting belong to Bellisario et al; the Highlander characters and concept belong to DPP et al. No harm intended, no money made.
Timing: Set sometime after Agent Afloat and before Cloak in season six.
Warnings: Contains history, Latin and religion.
No beta readers were harmed in the production of this story - but thanks to V for the help and advice and thanks to K for the help with Latin.
This story is the inevitable (!) result of giving a Classicist a throw away line like "Not Long Islanders, Romans". This story is also something of an anniversary piece. I started on this site on the 29th November 2000 as a Highlander writer and here I am, ten years later, coming back to my first fandom while playing in my newest... This is a crossover story, but don't worry if you're not familiar with Highlander; the blanks will get filled in as we go. Any Latin translations will come at the end of each part - though I will try to keep that to a minimum!
A Kind of Magic
Tony leaned over the sink in the men's room and splashed cold water on his face. The Gods certainly loved a good joke, he found himself thinking - though if this was a joke, he sure as shit wasn't laughing. How in the hell was it he found himself in this position? It was tempting to blame it on Amanda. She did, after all, have a reputation for throwing things into chaos just by walking into a room. But no. No, this current mess wasn't actually her fault. It was his own. He was the one who'd decided to get cute in setting up this present identity. He could almost hear Methos' ringing 'I told you so'. Stupid.
He splashed more cold water on his face.
Beating himself up wasn't going to help. It was time to face the problems rationally and try to come up with a solution before Gibbs - or, worse, Ziva - came looking for him.
All right. Problem the first: he'd been implicitly ordered to contact his 'father', Anthony DiNozzo Senior, the CEO of Roman International - a man who hadn't existed in any real sense for approaching twenty-five years. Solution one: stall. He'd long established that he and his 'father' had a rocky relationship, so it would surprise no-one if his calls went unreturned. The drawback was that it wouldn't take long until Gibbs decided to intervene.
Solution two: he could call Annie Philips, Roman International's current managing director. She knew the truth about him - some of it, at least - and was the one chiefly responsible for making sure that, for all his reclusiveness, Anthony DiNozzo Senior was still actively involved in the company he'd founded. She would be able to further any stalling and Tony knew she'd be happy to play along. But, if Hamas really was out to get him, he didn't want Annie involved in that any more than she already was.
Solution three: find some way to fake a conversation with Senior. There'd been any number of cases where they'd had faked calls, using computers and voice synthesisers. The problem with that was Tony wasn't sure his technical skills were up to producing something of that magnitude.
Solution four: explain the truth to the team. Not his preferred option by any stretch, but he had to list it as a solution all the same.
Okay; there were things he could work with there. Next problem: Hamas wanted to use him to make a point to the Roman International board and, as a result, he was going to be confined to the Navy Yard until that was resolved. Solution: find the Hamas operatives and take them out as quickly as possible. Put that way, it sounded simple. Tony knew it would be anything but. On the other hand, though, that was what Team Gibbs did best. And Mossad were bound to have at least a little more intel than Vance had passed on in an admittedly short briefing.
That left problem three: someone, probably armed with a sharp pointy object, was after him and all he knew was...what? Tony shook his head. The assumption was it related to his days in Rome - that was the pattern that the Watchers had noticed; but did he believe it? And if he did, just what did it mean? Was it, as he'd assumed on the basis of the source of the hacking, related to Iudea? And did it - as his gut was strongly suggesting - relate to the Hamas threat against Roman International? He shook his head again. The solution to this one lay, pretty firmly, at Ducky's feet. Without more information there was no way for him to formulate any kind of plan.
Maybe that was where to start. "Wonder if Ducky's in yet."
Ducky flipped the lights on in autopsy and set his golf bag down beside his desk. While he'd been on his way to the Navy Yard, he'd had a call from Gibbs, summoning him to work. The retired Marine had been brief - as was his wont - but Ducky hadn't needed many details to realise this summons related to Tony's situation. That was a sure sign that it was even worse than Tony had been suspecting - a thought that filled Ducky with no small measure of concern and which suggested that sooner, rather than later, the ancient Immortal would be gracing Autopsy seeking more information.
Ducky just wished he had more information to give.
Pulling Tony's sword from the depths of the golf bag, he hastily opened the nearest of the cooler drawers and tucked it into the narrow cavity beneath the slide. He would have to mark that drawer as "out of order" and do a spot of minor vandalism to add verisimilitude, but now that the sword was safely concealed, the rest could wait until he'd made a cup of tea.
He had just switched the kettle on, however, when he heard the doors of autopsy slide open.
Turning, he was slightly startled to see Gibbs walking in. "Jethro," he greeted.
"Duck, has Tony ever said anything to you about his father?" As usual, Gibbs zeroed in on the point of his visit at the expense of any pleasantries.
"His father?" Ducky echoed, internally wincing. "I can't say he has, no. Why?"
"Trying to make sense of what's going on."
"Perhaps," said Ducky as the kettle boiled, "it might help if you told me what was going on."
"Tony's in trouble. Must be a day of the week ending in y."
Ziva looked up from the photos she was reviewing as McGee entered the bullpen. "This is no joke, McGee."
McGee looked fractionally sheepish as he slid behind his desk. "I know but, you have to admit, this does happen to Tony a lot."
Ziva looked back at the photos. There was no point in disagreeing with McGee about that.
"So where do you want me to start?" McGee asked. "And where is Tony? I was sorta expecting to find Gibbs had him chained to the desk or something."
"Even prisoners get head calls," Ziva replied. "As for where to start, there is surveillance tape waiting to be analysed. We know that Hamas have been watching Tony; perhaps the watchers themselves have been watched."
McGee nodded and for a few moments there was silence in the bullpen. Ziva studied the photographs and made notes of where the photographs had been taken. It would, of course, have been far easier for Tony to be doing this but he was still away from the bullpen, presumably still trying to wrap his head around the size and scope of this plot. She shook her head. As much as she could sympathise with him, if it were her, she would want to be doing everything she could to try and resolve this rather than sticking her head in the sand. Then again, Tony lacked her training, so perhaps he did need this time to allow himself to come to terms with what had happened - in which case, it would be up to her and McGee to pick up the investigative slack until he was ready.
Distantly, she heard the sound of the elevator heralding a new arrival, but it wasn't until she heard an exclaimed, "Binty!" that she looked up and realised that the new arrival had come to a halt directly in front of her desk and was now smiling down on her like the benevolent giant she knew him to be. "Michael Bashan did not tell me it was you I was to deliver these to."
Ziva stared at him for a moment, stunned. "Simon, what are you doing here?" she finally managed.
"Courier duty," he answered, holding out a folder. "More information for you."
Ziva accepted it and flicked it open. Yet more photographs. That at least allowed her something else to focus on, rather than the surprise that was still threatening to rob her of her speech. "They have been thorough, yes?"
"It seems they are particularly desperate to make this point."
McGee cleared his throat and Ziva realised there were some introductions in order. "Special Agent McGee, this is Officer Simon Ben-Artzi of Mossad."
Ben-Artzi offered McGee a smile and a nod. "A pleasure to meet you." He turned back to Ziva. "How long have you been here in Washington?"
"This is my fourth year in this post," Ziva answered. "Although I was at home this summer. You were-?"
"Elsewhere," Ben-Artzi replied with an apologetic shrug. "Your father keeps me busy. Since we are both in Washington, perhaps I might buy you dinner one evening? Allow us an opportunity to catch up with one another's news."
Ziva smiled, shock finally beginning to fade. "I would like that, very much - though it will not be until this cell has been brought down."
"Of course." He nodded. "I will be at the embassy until Friday."
"I will call," Ziva promised.
Ben-Artzi nodded again and departed with a smile and a jaunty wave. Ziva watched him leave, wishing - not for the first time - that her father kept her a little more in touch with what was going on.
"So..." McGee began. "Binty?"
And now the nickname drew a blush to her cheeks and she was grateful that Tony was still not present in the bullpen. "It is an old Israeli nickname," she answered. "And I will kill you with a paper fastener if I ever hear it so much as breathed in Tony's presence." McGee mimed zipping his lips shut. "Good."
"So who is he?" McGee asked.
"He is an old friend," Ziva answered in a tone that would, she knew, persuade McGee to drop the questions. She had always been scornful of those who used the phrase 'it's complicated', but it was the only phrase that truly covered her relationship with Ben-Artzi. The last thing she wanted to risk was a DiNozzo-style interrogation on the subject and if there was a topic that was likely to conjure Tony's return to the bullpen, this would be it.
All McGee said in response was a knowing, "Oh - I see," and then he wisely got back to work on the surveillance footage.
Ziva sighed and turned her attention back to the photographs. It was going to be a very long case.
Abby bounced around her lab starting up her various machines. While the situation was one that came under the general category heading of 'not good' she reasoned that this was a fairly mild case of 'not good' - in that they could do something about it before people got hurt, rather than after. On the other hand, this was Tony they were talking about. Even with this kind of warning there were no guarantees-
"Positive thoughts, Abby; positive thoughts," she muttered, forcibly dragging her mind from that path of thought. "this will be fine and nobody will get hurt. Except for the bad guys - because they started it and will probably deserve it and when Gibbs catches up to them they'll wish they had never even so much as thought about Anthony DiNozzo much less tried to kidnap him and use him against his own father and-"
"Take a breath, Abs," said a voice from the doorway.
Spinning on a dime, Abby stared at the interloper for a few seconds, then hurled herself at him with a whoop of, "Tony! Are you okay?"
From the sheer fact that they didn't, in fact, end up on the lab floor in a tangled heap of Tony and Abby (would that be a tabby heap? Something to consider later), Abby guessed Tony had more or less been expecting the hug. From the way his arms wrapped themselves around her, he might even have been looking for it.
"M'okay, Abs," he murmured, somewhere in the general region of her ear.
"Are you sure?"
"Positive." He gently set her back on her feet. "What are you doing here, anyway?"
Abby's hands went to her hips and she gave him her number two best glare - because he was under a lot of stress, so he probably didn't deserve anything harsher for such a stupid question. "Because those whackjobs have put a hit out on you and if you think that I can just sit at home - with the nuns, who would totally be at church right now, so I guess that's where I'd be - while my best friend is in this kind of trouble and when I could do something about it-"
She stopped short.
She smiled. "You're welcome. Now you'd better leave me to my work - a magician never reveals her secrets and McGee has sent me the worst piece of security camera footage so..." She trailed off in a meaningful fashion.
Tony took his cue and turned to leave. He paused in the doorway, though, and added, " CafPow on your desk." Then he was gone.
Abby smirked and shook her head. He was getting more and more like Gibbs every day. "Right, men," she began, turning to the room at large, "we have work to do."
To Be Continued...
No Latin, this time, but some Hebrew or, more accurately, butchered Arabic (with very grateful thanks to the folks on Little Details!):
Binty - my daughter. Used by people of a military background as an informal mode of address to a much younger woman. (The example I was given was CO of a CO!)