Well, so much for prewriting five chapters for uploading. I have plot bunnies for several Doctor Who stories, and am concentrating on The Music of the Night at the moment. When I am finished with that story, this series will be taken off hiatus. In the meantime, I have made some minor revisions and am revising and continuing In Walks the Night.
"I can't believe we have to do this," Tony DiNozzo muttered, glaring at the door marked COUNSELING.
"Left back at you," Ziva David, his partner on Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs's NCIS team, agreed.
"Right back at you," Tony corrected.
"Whatever. Besides, the Director will find out if we have or haven't been going. I mean, I can see why she didn't believe us when we told her we were Shifters, but . . ." Ziva shrugged.
Tony, her mate, stared at her with something close to horror flashing in his green-gray eyes. "You're not seriously considering going through with this, are you?"
"How bad can it be?" Ziva countered, reaching out with her hand for the doorknob. It twisted, and she pushed the door open, revealing a small, wooden desk in the main room; beyond that, she could see several plump cushions and sofas. Then, as she moved further into the room, she caught sight of the presumed counselor: a beautiful woman with dark hair, startling gray eyes, and a figure that curved enough to show she was female. Those gray eyes locked on Tony with interest. Instantly Ziva's wolf snarled and leapt, loathing any other woman near her mate. She fished around for Tony's hand and laced her fingers through his, allowing her dark brown eyes to meet that of the possible threat. The counselor had eyes only for DiNozzo, so that told both Ziva and Tony she wasn't a Shifter or even part Shifter. No one crossed another's mate in their world, and if one male challenged another for a female, it was a fight to the death—in wolf form. That was during the female's first transformation at age seventeen (or even before); Ziva had gone through it with a friend of hers, but both had agreed they were not meant to be mates. It wasn't until during a case they'd just closed only two days before that she'd found her mate—and she never would have guessed that it would be Tony DiNozzo, a Shifter, her partner, practical joker, and, yes, movie-loving playboy.
"Glad you could make it." The breathy voice pulled Ziva back into the present, and she swore silently in Hebrew for letting her mind wander. "I'm Dr. Harris, but you can call me Sam." Dr. Harris flashed a smile at Tony, and her teeth were so bright they should have come with a label: WARNING: DO NOT STARE DIRECTLY AT TEETH. DOING SO MAY CAUSE PERMANENT BLINDNESS. "Director Shepard told me you were coming. It's Special Agent DiNozzo, right?"
"Yeah," Tony said shortly. "This is my partner, Officer David." He flexed the fingers that were laced with Ziva's, and Dr. Harris caught the movement. Her gray eyes saw that their hands—his right, her left—were intertwined, and a warm flush crept into her cheeks. Ziva's wolf curled her upper lip and huffed with satisfaction. Good. Maybe she'll back off now. I still want to shoot her, of course.
«Take it easy, Zi,»Tony said silently, communicating telepathically with her in the way of bonded mates. «I don't think the Director would be too happy with us if we kill the agency's counselor.»
«I hate it when you're right.»
His mental reply was smug. «That's because you love me.»
She mentally gritted her teeth and squeezed his hand. Tony's muffled whine filled her with satisfaction. «Yes, I do, but right now shut up if you know what's good for you, DiNozzo.»
«Mmm-hmmm.» Ziva released his hand and shot the shrink—sorry, counselor—a tight smile. "Did the Director say why we were here?"
"Uh, something about your latest case? Let's go in back and sit down." Dr. Sam Harris led the two Shifters back to the smaller room Ziva had seen earlier. "Can I get you anything? Tea? Coffee? Soda? Water?"
Ziva had to resist the urge to roll her eyes. The she-wolf answered, "I'm fine," just as Tony replied, "No thanks."
There were a few silent moments while they sat down and Dr. Harris reached for a notepad and pencil. Both Shifters eyed it suspiciously. Tony said, "You're not taking notes, are you?" Ziva didn't say anything, but she curled her upper lip in a snarl of contempt.
Sam blinked. "Of course. I have to, you know."
Ziva felt Tony tense up beside her, as close as he was to her. She hissed softly, "Chill it!"
"Cool it," he corrected.
The shrink had been watching them with undisguised curiosity. She asked, "Do you guys do this all the time?"
"Yes," Tony replied just as Ziva answered, "No."
Again, they spoke at the same time, DiNozzo saying no and David going with yes.
Sam sighed. "Don't you agree on anything?"
"No," they said in unison.
One of Sam's eyebrows lifted. "So you finally have your stories straight."
Tony opened his mouth like he was going to say something, but Ziva beat him to it: "Do you want to interrogate us or not?"
Sam bristled. "I don't interrogate people. That's your job."
An irritated snarl rose in Ziva's throat, but she managed to stay silent. Murder flashed in her eyes, though, something she was sure both Tony and Dr. Harris saw clearly. She didn't care.
Dr. Sam Harris cleared her throat loudly. "So, uh, why don't you tell me about your last case?"
Both Shifters looked at each other, like, You first. After a brief mental battle, Tony sighed and said, "You're sure Director Shepard didn't say why we're here?"
"All I know is that it has to do with your case, and that you were claiming to be . . . uh . . . werewolves."
"I take offense to that," said Tony, looking offended. 'We're not Hollywood lycanthropes. You do know we can't talk about an ongoing investigation, right?"
Sam's shoulders slumped in relief. Then she tensed. 'Hang on. Hollywood? So you are lycanthropes?'
"We'd tell you, but then we'd have to kill you," Ziva deadpanned, only half joking. She leaned back in her chair and undid her ponytail, shaking her head so her dark brown curls tumbled free and cascaded over her shoulders. Today she was wearing an olive-green long-sleeved shirt and khaki cargo pants, very much the same outfit she'd worn the first time she met Tony, after the death of Special Agent Caitlin Todd at the hands of Ziva's half-brother, Ari Haswari. Then Ziva had had to kill Ari to save Gibbs . . . So, yeah, there was definitely some awkwardness when she initially joined Team Gibbs—Abby had hated Ziva at first, but now they were really good friends.
In any case, the case they were referring to involved a dead drug-dealing petty officer; her civilian friend; a rogue ATF Shifter; and Jeanne Bentoit, Tony's ex-girlfriend that he was romancing as part of a top-secret undercover op run by Director Jenny Shepard. Petty Officer Phoebe Madison had killed a rival officer encroaching on her turf, and she in turn had been killed by Chris Nixon and Ethan Keane, the civilian friend and the ATF Shifter who didn't belong to any pack. (Neither did Tony and Ziva, but the NCIS team basically was their pack and family. If it weren't for the team, Ziva and Tony would never have known what love and affection were.) When the team had brought Keane in for interrogation, he'd escaped. The NCIS Shifters had found him in the evidence garage, during which Keane attacked Tony—both in wolf form—and Ziva had been forced to ill the black wolf in order to save her partner by shifting and sinking her fangs into his throat. They'd also had help from CIA agents Trent Kort and his mate, a Russian named Meghan Volkov, who also happened to be Shifters. Of course, there was no way they could include all the Shifter stuff in the case reports, since the entire agency save for Gibbs and Director Shepard had no idea what they were.
But Jenny had had a hard time believing them, which was why they were now here. . . .
"Yes, well." Dr. Harris sounded uncomfortable, but her voice snapped the Mossad liaison officer out of her thoughts. "You two seem okay to me. You're not . . . seeing each other, are you?"
"Why do people always ask us that?" Tony complained under his breath. Ziva had to fight back an amused smile. She said, "Uh, what gave you that idea?"
Sam shrugged a little. "Just the way you two interact with each other."
"Why don't you bring out the brown leather couch already, Doc?" Tony asked, his green-gray eyes narrowed with suspicion.
The shrink bristled, but before she could reply, Tony's cell rang. He fished it out of his pocket, flipped it open, and answered, "Yes, Boss?" There was a pause, then he said, "Got it. I'll tell Ziva." DiNozzo hung up and turned to his partner. "We caught a case. Let's go. Nice to meet ya, Doc." Not. (Ziva smirked as she caught his thought.) Tony bolted from his seat; Ziva did the same. It wasn't long before they were free from that already-hated office and on their way to the crime scene.
"Hi, I'm looking for a Dr. Jeanne Bentoit."
Said doctor's head popped up at the now-familiar voice and saw Chris Nixon standing there. It suddenly occurred to her that he was very good-looking when dressed all in black: it brought out the natural highlights in his shaggy blond hair and the contrasting blues, greens, and browns in his hazel eyes.
Chris had first approached her the day before in a café she frequented. Well, that wasn't quite true: he'd sent her a text an hour before arranging the meet, saying that he wanted her help on a secret project. When she'd first met him, he told her that he knew about Tony being a lycanthrope and that he wanted to capture a werewolf to study it. His eyes had lit up as he described the medical ramifications—and of course, the recreational uses. Then he'd asked her if she would help him . . . and she'd said yes.
"I'll be there in about ten minutes," Jeanne told Chris presently. "Can you wait here until my shift ends?"
"Yeah, sure." Chris sat down in one of the lobby's chairs and, crossing one leg over the other, reached for one of the magazines they always kept out, even if they were a few months—or years—out of date.
Ten minutes later, they were at a table in the hospital cafeteria, conversing about their plan in greater detail.
Tony and Ziva would have no idea what was happening until it was too late.