The biggest ever thanks and hugs to all of you for your support 3. Here's the last part, hope you enjoy :)
They caught the security guard trying to dump the trunk and its contents into the Anacostia River. As the man held at gunpoint by Ziva protested his innocence, Tony broke the lock on the truck and found the sightless green eyes of a redheaded woman watching him while he called it in to NCIS.
The man, the trunk and the van used to drive it to the river were taken back to NCIS Headquarters at the Navy Yard. Ducky took the body to autopsy while a forensics team got to work on the van. Tony and Ziva ran the man sweating it out in the interrogation room through the system and were compiling all of the available information they had on him when Holly arrived.
"Her name is – was - Rachel Holden," the former DC Madam announced as she looked at the image of the dead woman on the board they'd set up in the corner of the room. "She was one of mine for a while, until she realised she could make more money elsewhere."
Ziva looked up, her gaze sympathetic. "I am sorry. I didn't realise you knew others who worked for Scarlet Secret."
"Neither did I," Holly sighed. She ran a hand through her hair, tearing her gaze away from the image on screen. "Is there anything I can do to help? Agent McGee has everything under control in the surveillance van, Agent Green has gone in to wait with Abby and I'm told Gibbs is on his way back here to start the interview."
"You could tell us what you know about the victim," Tony suggested after a look from his teammate. "Does she have any family, friends we should be contacting?"
Holly took the seat between Ziva's desk and Gibbs, her expression thoughtful. "She was an only child, if I remember right. Her Mom lived in LA with her stepfather last I heard, her father died when she was a child. She moved to DC to get away from an ex-boyfriend she'd met on the job. He seemed to think it wasn't over as long as he could still pay her fees."
"I will look for contact details for her mother," Ziva sighed. She glanced up at the screen, feeling a pang of sympathy for both their victim and her family. "She looks so young."
"Twenty-seven on her last birthday," Tony supplied, bringing up a criminal record for Rachel Holden on the plasma screen between their desks. "She was charged with possession five years ago."
Holly inclined her head. "I heard about that. She wasn't using when she worked for me. I had my girls go to a health clinic on a regular basis. It would have highlighted a drug habit if she'd had it then."
"Boss." Tony's greeting broke the temporary silence that fell over them. He and Ziva got to their feet while Holly remained seated, watching Gibbs speculatively as he walked around to his desk. "We're holding the security goon in interrogation. His name is Logan Myers. He has a sheet for assault, arson and robbery. Not exactly an ideal candidate for a job in security."
"Takes all sorts, DiNozzo," Gibbs commented. "The body in the trunk?"
"Rachel Holden, twenty-seven. Ms. Snow recognised her as a former employee. Her mother died a year ago, natural causes," Ziva reported quietly, reading from the information she'd brought up on the computer in front of her. "There is no one to inform of her death."
Gibbs nodded, putting his badge and his weapon in his desk draw and locking it. "DiNozzo, go down to interrogation, see if you can get Myers talking. I'll be down in a few minutes. Ziva, join McGee and the surveillance team. Get ready to move in on my mark and make sure Green knows to get Abby out of there and back here before we go in."
His agents went to work immediately, each going their separate ways. Holly stood up, drawing Gibbs' attention before he could follow Tony towards the elevators.
"What?" He asked, his eyes narrowing at the look on her face.
Holly gave him a small, almost sad smile and approached him slowly. She reached out, her fingers stopping a hairsbreadth from touching his chest. She leaned in close, her voice just above a whisper. "You missed a button, Agent Gibbs." She drew back, arching an eyebrow at the faint flicker of embarrassment in his eyes. "I'd let your agents assume you did it deliberately, to make the act look convincing, but I think I'll draw my own conclusions."
"Holly." He caught her hand before she could pull back completely, his gaze holding hers. There'd been a time, he recalled, when he'd thought there could be something between them. A time before he'd realised he still had a chance with his forensic specialist. Gibbs wasn't a stupid man; he'd seen the looks Holly had given him and knew what they meant and he was genuinely sorry for the flash of disappointment on her face when she'd put two and two together and figured out she wasn't who he really wanted.
"Don't say you're sorry," Holly told him, gently pulling her hand away. "You don't owe me that, Jethro. You don't owe me anything."
He gave her a small nod, unable to bring himself to regret missing out on an opportunity to explore the attraction between them with the memory of finally being with Abby and his hopes for a future with her so fresh in his mind. He turned and resumed his course for the elevator, determined to break the case and get Abby out of Scarlet Secret before she ended up like the woman in the morgue.
It took two hours of asking him the same questions, of showing him stills of the surveillance tapes they'd taken of him leaving Scarlet Secret on several occasions before he started to talk and only then after he'd sought reassurances that they'd be lenient with the charges they brought against him in exchange for the information he had.
He confirmed that Andre Mason had killed Rachel Holden, Emily Sholton and several others who'd attempted to get out of their contracts.
"It was a security thing," he explained, clasping his hands together on the table in front of him. "Mr. Mason and Ms. Reynard were afraid that, should anyone leave their employment, they might go to the cops or say something about the operation to the wrong person. It's a lucrative business. If it was to close down, they'd lose everything."
"They won't need money in prison," Tony pointed out, shrugging a shoulder. He opened the folder in front of him and slid a photograph of John Davenport across the table towards Myers. "Do you recognise this man?"
A glimmer of recognition lit Myers' eyes. "He was a regular," he said evenly. "Until a couple of weeks ago."
"A regular?" Tony glanced at Gibbs, sensing his boss shared his surprise. "He visited often?"
"Couple of times a week for three, maybe four months," Myers answered noncommittally. "What's he got to do with anything? He's not dead, is he?"
Gibbs took over the line of questioning, leaning forward a little in his seat. "Do you remember the last time you saw him?"
Myers shifted uncomfortably in his chair. A bead of sweat formed at his brown and ran down his face. After several tense moments, he sighed heavily. "Last I saw, he was in the alley at the back of the building. One of the guys had to remove him when he refused to leave after his time was up."
"They use force to remove him?" Gibbs asked in a deceptively casual tone. When Myers didn't answer immediately, he slid another photograph from the folder, an after shot taken while Lieutenant Davenport recovered in hospital. "One of your security guys do that?"
"Probably," Myers admitted with a shrug. "I wasn't there when it happened but I heard he was a difficult customer. Kept insisting he wouldn't leave unless Scott went with him."
"Scott?" Remembering Abby's description of the man who'd warned her to keep her head down, Gibbs sat up straighter.
"Scott Hopkins. He's the guy he kept coming to see." Myers looked up from the photograph. "There are rules against getting personally involved with clients outside of duty shifts. Scott knew it but Andre and Lucy found out he'd been seeing this guy outside of work for weeks. They told him it had to stop, or the guy would pay the consequences and told the girls on reception to contact security if he showed up again wanting to see Scott or any of the others. Apparently he got by them, booked under a false name and got one of his friends to smuggle him inside. At the end of the appointment, he refused to leave unless Scott could go, too. Seemed to genuinely care, if you ask me."
Without a word, Gibbs put both photographs back into the folder and stood up. Tony followed him out of the interrogation room, pulling the door shut behind them.
"SecNav's not gonna like this," Tony commented in a low voice as another agent moved into position to guard the door. "He's under the impression it was a one-time thing."
Gibbs suspected the fact his nephew had been visiting another man would be an issue, too, but kept that to himself. "Call Ziva," he instructed Tony. "Tell her we're on our way." He pulled out his own cell phone as Tony made the call, hitting a button before lifting it to his ear. She answered after only a few minutes, giving him the impression she'd been sitting with the phone in her hands. "It's over, Abby. Get out of there."
Her sigh of relief came through the phone, loud and clear. "We're already at the door. See you later, Gibbs."
"Later," Gibbs echoed, shutting the phone and ending the call without bidding her a proper goodbye. He looked at Tony as his agent hung up the phone. "Everyone in position?"
"Ready and waiting," Tony confirmed, squaring his shoulders. "I'll be glad when this one's over and Abby's back in her lab. I know she's capable of taking care of herself but having her in the field puts me on edge."
Silently, Gibbs agreed.
Everyone who was at Scarlet Secret was brought in for questioning. Abby kept out of the way, content to stay down in her lab until she got the all clear from Gibbs or his team. She was glad that most of the men and women who worked in the rooms were given cautions or warnings in exchange for agreeing to testify against Andre and Lucy and relieved that the rest of Myers security team rolled over on each other and the management pretty quick, guaranteeing that everyone involved in committing the killings would be charged to some degree and would each spend a stretch of time behind bars.
She looked up when she heard someone walk into the lab, the smile on her face faltering for only a second when she found Holly standing on the threshold. "Ms. Snow," she greeted her politely. Her smile faded a little when she remembered what she'd been told about Emily Sholton. "I'm sorry about your friend."
Holly inclined her head slightly, accepting the sympathies as she walked into the lab. "Thank you, Abby. I won't lie and say I wish there was a better outcome but at least now her parents will know what happened to her."
There was an awkward pause. Abby shifted from foot to foot, wringing her hands in front of her. "Ah... Gibbs is still in interrogation, I think. Andre's refusing to talk."
"It isn't Jethro I wanted to see." Holly moved further into the lab, a quick flash of a smile on her face. Her gaze moved around, assessing what was around her, and she nodded to herself, almost as though she approved of what she saw or had had her suspicions confirmed. "I wanted to thank you," she said after another moment, her gaze shifting to meet Abby's own. "You didn't have to take the assignment, and I would have understood if you hadn't, but I think it made it easier, you already having a connection to Scarlet Secret. So thank you for that, for putting yourself in a situation I know can't have been comfortable for you."
Abby shrugged, feeling awkward under the praise of a woman she admired in one sense and couldn't understand in another. "I didn't do much," she protested quietly.
"You were there when you needed to be, to give Jethro and his agents the lead they needed to break the case," Holly countered, arching an eyebrow. "If you hadn't, they might've missed the guys moving Rachel's body."
Again, Abby shrugged but she didn't argue. She gave Holly a small smile and an even smaller nod. "I still think your thanks are unnecessary but if it helps, I'll accept it."
Holly gave her a long, speculative look, one that eventually made Abby squirm uncomfortably where she stood. After several moments, the slightly older woman smiled again, something akin to understanding dawning in her eyes. "I can see what attracts him to you, Abby, why he loves you." Her smile grew a little wider when Abby blushed and opened her mouth to deny it. "I'd say you're a lucky woman, but I think he's just as lucky a man. Take care of yourself, and of him."
"I will." Abby watched her leave and let her shoulders relax when she heard the muted ding of the elevator.
When Gibbs walked into the lab much later on, well into the middle of the following day, it was to find Abby curled up on the futon she kept in the office area of her lab. He knelt beside her, stroking her hair back from her face, smiling when she leaned her cheek into his palm even as she slept.
"Abby." He called her name softly, loathe to wake her but eager, for once, to follow Vance's orders and make sure every member of his team had an early finish and caught up on their rest in preparation for the next cast that would inevitably land on their desks. He watched her eyelids flutter, a soft smile curling her lips as she opened her eyes and found him looking at her. "Hey."
"Hey." She lifted a hand to stifle a yawn and propped herself up on one elbow. "What time is it?"
"Just after two." He reached out and helped her into an upright position, immediately joining her on the futon when there was space to sit down. "Director said we can all go home."
"Yay." Her enthusiasm was muted by her exhaustion and she leaned against his side heavily, resting her head on his shoulder with a sigh that was part-yawn. "Did you find Tina?"
Gibbs nodded although she couldn't see him. "She was safe at home with her son. He wasn't well, so she skipped her shift. She's relieved Mason's behind bars. Told Ziva she looking forward to getting a normal nine-to-five so she could spend more time with her son."
"That's good." After a moment of silence, Abby lifted her head from his shoulder with another yawn. "We should move before I fall asleep again."
Needing no further encouragement, he stood up and offered his hand, pulling her up to her feet when she took it. Wrapping an arm around her waist, he let her lead him around the lab as she shut off her machines and equipment before ushering her out of the room towards the elevators.
"You gonna come to my place?" Abby asked quietly, winding her arm around his waist as the elevator doors closed behind them.
"Mine's closer," he murmured, brushing his lips against her forehead. "You did a good job, Abs. I might not have liked it but you did good."
Smiling shyly, she ducked her head at his praise, dropping her arm to put a respectable amount of distance between them as the elevator doors opened once more. It hadn't been her dream assignment by a long shot, and wasn't something she thought she'd volunteer for again, but the outcome had been far better than she'd expected and that, she couldn't regret it.
The case was closed, the bad guys were caught, and she had the pleasure of knowing the man at her side wanted her, too.
Again, a huge thank you to everyone who's read this. *hugs*