Ok, here we go. This is my first multi-chapter/multi-character/casefic and I'm equally excited and terrified to post it. I've got about six chapters mostly done and have outlined the rest, so I think it's time to start posting. First chapter is more of a short epilogue, but then they will get a little meatier as the story progresses.

Reviews make the world go round so please leave a quick note at the end!

Disclaimer: Run on sentences and abused semi-colons are mine; the characters belong to someone else


Oh, what a tangled web we weave

When first we practise to deceive!

~Sir Walter Scott


"Take a look. That's who you're handling. Do whatever it takes. Any questions?

Tony wasn't sure how he made it back to his desk, or through the rest of the day for that matter. His anger simmered just below the surface all day, to be rivaled only by an equally and inexplicably hacked off Ziva sitting across from him, pounding at her keyboard as if it had done her great insult. McGee's gaze routinely flickered between the two of them, wondering whose bewildering anger would boil over first, but they both remained quiet. Gibbs just simply ignored them all.

By the time eighteen hundred rolled around without a single newly murdered or murdering person crossing the MCRT's desks, Gibbs gave them a nod to leave. The team scattered: McGee for Abby's lab, and Ziva for her car without a backwards glance. She was balling her firsts and walked with an agitation to her step that Tony knew signaled a double loop on her normal evening jog. He opted for a more traditional outlet, retreating to the basement's gym and beating a heavy bag until his knuckles were raw and cracking.

He sat a few hours later in his apartment, nursing his second beer and staring at the spread of files in front of him. He tried to focus on the heavily redacted report in his hand, but a pair of familiar blue eyes caught his gaze for the umpteenth time. He took a long swig and sighed. He had never wholly trusted the owner of those eyes. Liked? Sure. Enjoyed the company? No doubt. But he hadn't spent the last decade learning at the backhand of one LeRoy Jethro Gibbs to miss the warning signs on this one. His initial, mild curiosity at the awkward inconsistencies had grown into a genuine suspicion by the time the shit hit the fan.

And it would seem he wasn't the only one watching Erica Jane Barrett closely. The question now became: What was he going to do about it?

"Screw this," Tony muttered to himself, shoving the papers back into the file and grabbing his keys. This situation was all to familiar, and he still had the scars to remind him of what happened the last time he was ordered to whore himself out for a case. If SecNav 2.0 and Vance were forcing him to repeat history, then he was damn well gonna do this his way, this time.

Tony was surprised to see Ziva's mini sitting in front of Gibbs' house. He smiled at the paradox of the steely eyed team leader - he may act like a disinterested hardass, but his front door was always open to strays in need of a makeshift glass of bourbon and an impartial ear. He thought about waiting for Ziva to leave, but then got out of his car with a shrug.

All the better, he admitted to himself. Woulda told her next anyways.

He made a point of nosily opening the front door and walking loudly across the kitchen, giving them time to end their presumably private conversation before he butted in. He clomped down the stairs and saw Ziva and Gibbs sitting across from one another at the work table. Gibbs had an nondescript lump of wood in front of him and Ziva twirled a glass of amber liquid.

"Didn't realize we were having a team party here tonight," Gibbs grumbled without looking up. Ziva smirked, acknowledging him with a slight nod of her head.

"Yeah, well, I left the mini-quiches upstairs. McGee's on his way with pizza but Palmer should already be here with the keg…"

"DiNozzo," Gibbs interrupted, crossing his arms and giving him a look that clearly said Get to the damn point.

Tony looked down to the file tapping nervously against his hand and took a deep breath. He was about to disobey a direct order and share highly classified information. But they were his team, and he couldn't do this alone.

He moved to stand on the third side of the workbench, meeting Gibbs' annoyed glare. "You're never gonna believe what the new SecNav and Vance just asked me to do...behind your backs nonetheless."

He smacked the file down in between the other two, EJ's picture still paperclipped to the outside of the folder. Ziva and Gibbs stared down at it and then exchanged a long look with each other. Ziva fished below the table, grabbing for something and pulled out an identical folder. She tossed it towards him, papers scattering slightly from its depths.

But Tony's eyes were glued to the smiling face of CIRay's ID photo looking up at him.

"Yes Tony, I think we will."

Don't forget to drop a note if you're intrigued, annoyed, or anything in between! Thanks for reading!