Disclaimer: The NCIS characters mentioned below are not mine and no profit has been made in the writing or posting of this story.
Summary: Sequel to my story Superman Soup: "The Admiral's expression was steely. 'I don't have a son. That relationship stopped the day you killed your mother.'"
Spoilers: Set after my story Superman Soup. It is not necessary to have read Superman Soup prior to reading Fatherly Conundrums, although it will help to clarify this story. General spoilers for NCIS Season 10, specifically 10x11 "Shabbat Shalom" and 10x12 "Shiva."
He started without fully opening his eyes, brows drawing together as he tried to discern whether or not he had fallen asleep. Cracking one eye open before the other, the room he was in was still bathed in the same muted light as he remembered. He closed his mouth, flexing his jaw as he did so to rid it of the stiffness. His tongue instantly stuck to the roof of his mouth, the moisture from one penetrating the dryness of the other. Definitely fell asleep, then, with his mouth open. Making clacking noises while working his jaw, his tongue slowly rewetting his mouth, he rotated his neck, wincing at its rigidity from remaining in one position for too long of time. Massaging it gently with his fingers, he noted that it would feel strained for the remainder of the day. Rotating his neck once more to try to alleviate any remaining discomfort, he grimaced when his neck gave a resounding pop. It certainly was not supposed to do that. A headache was beginning to make itself known and he groaned, putting his head in his hands and using his fingers to massage his forehead.
"Long night?" He jumped at the sound of the new voice, lifting his head from its perch in surprise.
Rotating his chair around with a gentle nudge from his foot, he turned to face the theater chairs behind him. The glow from the big screen in the front of the room and the tiny buttons nestled in the computer station illuminated the figure of the person sitting down in one of the chairs, watching him intently. "Hey Boss," he greeted tiredly. "When did you get here?"
Instead of answering, the man asked, "You get any sleep at all besides now?"
He flushed, embarrassed. "No, I wanted to get this done." Glancing at his watch, he added, "I think I got a couple of hours. I'll be okay."
Gibbs stood up without a word, reaching behind him to pick up a Styrofoam cup from the black cup holder connected to the arm of the chair. Walking over to the agent, Gibbs handed the cup to him, which he reached for with outstretched hands. The heat permeated from the cup into his hands, warming them. He closed his eyes as he inhaled the tantalizing aroma through his nose, letting the smell of fresh coffee wash over him and wipe away any tiredness that still resided.
Remembering himself, his eyes popped open to see his boss smirking lightly, though there was concern behind the man's mirth. "Are you done, with this?" Gibbs asked, gesturing to the open computer screen. "Or do I need to tell Director Craig to set up a permanent bed in MTAC?"
He took a sip from his coffee cup, surprised and touched, though he should have known by now, that Gibbs had ordered his coffee just the way he liked it. Transferring the cup to his right hand, he turned back to the computer keyboard and monitor, his left hand flying over the keys and eyes jumping to different parts of the screen, rapidly scanning the data. Letting out a sigh and using his free hand to massage his forehead, he answered, "Not yet. I still don't have enough information to make this work."
"Bring it up on the screen," Gibbs instructed. With a few clicks of the keys, the image appeared on the giant screen in the front of the room, the endless rows of numbers and letters filling the entire black page. The green font color of the unreadable text cast an eerie glow on Gibbs, bathing his skin in an olive, extraterrestrial light.
"What am I looking at, McGee?" Gibbs asked, snapping him out of his reverie.
"It's an algorithm," he answered tiredly. "I'm using the information we have as variables in the formula…"
"In English, McGee," Gibbs interrupted, throwing him an incredulous look.
He sighed, his free hand moving from his forehead to the back of his neck to massage the stiffness. "It's a math equation," he began again. "To find Bodnar."
Gibbs' head snapped in his direction, the man's interest piqued. "You're using math to find Bodnar?" Gibbs' voice, while calm, held an undertone of hope.
"I'm trying to, at least," he clarified. "I heard about the FBI doing something similar once and I thought it might work for us."
"And?" Gibbs asked, leadingly.
"And I still don't have enough information," he answered, hand gesturing to the screen. "I was running a test last night, but the results are saying that there still isn't enough information to go off of."
"What information are you using?"
He closed his eyes as he pinched the bridge of his nose, trying to dispel the headache, before taking a sip of coffee and reopening his eyes. "I've gone through all the files we have on Bodnar, who his contacts are, friends, and places where he would hide out. I asked Fornell for the same from the FBI and Gavriela Adel gave me everything that she's been able to get for the CIA. Officer Ben – Gidon sent me a few files, but there wasn't much there. He said he'd send more when he can. I've gone through everything and entered it into the computer as variables, or parts of the math equation, and hopefully when I get everything put in, it'll be able to tell me the people Bodnar would be likely to go to for help, or areas where he'd feel comfortable hiding out."
"A math problem can tell you all that?" Gibbs' eyebrow quirked in disbelief.
He smiled lightly. "That's what I'm hoping for."
"What more do you need?" Gibbs questioned, tone much more businesslike than before.
He sighed lightly. "Just more variables. I have too few right now, and it's throwing off the results. I need files from at least one more agency, or maybe two, and then I can try to run the formula through the computer again."
Gibb stared at the large screen, though the man was hardly studying the equation. He could see his boss was thinking, mulling over a plan, and he waited patiently in silence, emptying his coffee cup as he did so. Seeming to have come to a conclusion, Gibbs reached into his pocket, procured his phone, and flipped it open, pressing some buttons with audible beeps. Holding the device up to his ear, he began without preamble, "I need you to get Bodnar's file from the DoD, OIA, DCHC, JIC, and every other alphabet agency you can think of." Gibbs waited in silence for a moment, the person on the other line obviously speaking. "McGee thinks he can find Bodnar." He shut his phone with a click, cutting off the conversation.
Turning to his agent, Gibbs answered the unspoken question, "Craig's going to get some more files for you. Go take a shower, get cleaned up, then get over to the Office of Naval Intelligence and see what they have for files."
He paled, eyes widening. "The Office of Naval Intelligence?" His voice squeaked. "Can't I just call them for it?"
Gibbs gave him a hard look. "You have any contacts over there?"
"No," he managed.
"Yah think they're going to hand over those files just 'cuz you ask nicely over the phone? Get over there, wave your badge around, and get those files," Gibbs ordered, face showing disbelief that he was having such a conversation with his agent.
"Won't Director Craig call them too when he's getting the information from the other agencies?" he tried.
"No, because you'll already have them." Gibbs gave him a hard look, indicating that the conversation had ended.
He stared at the older man blankly, mind racing to come up with an excuse that would prevent his visit to the Office of Naval Intelligence. Unconsciously, his hand gripped the empty coffee cup, the Styrofoam cracking with a soft pop.
"Now, McGee!" Gibbs instructed, annoyed and tone brokering no argument.
He started, scrambling to turn back to the computer monitor table to collect all the files and paperwork he had spread across the work area. Shoving loose leafs into manila folders, some crinkling with the unrestrained pressure, he tucked everything under his arm and hurried to the door. With a quick, "On it, Boss," called over his shoulder, the door shut behind him preventing him from seeing the fond smirk on his mentor's face as the man looked at the projector screen with wonder.
a/n: Thank you so very much for taking the time to read my story. I appreciate it very, very much. The next chapter will be up shortly. A confrontation is in store!