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A Friend in Need

by: tutncleo (Send Feedback)

Series: - No Series - #1
Chapters: 007 Word Count: 63347
Rating: ADULT
Character(s): Jethro Gibbs, Tony DiNozzo, Ensemble
Category(ies): New Character, Established Relationship, Episode Related, Action/Adventure
Pairing(s): Gibbs/DiNozzo
Episode(s): 4-08 Once a Hero, 5-04 Identity Crisis, 5-11 Tribes, 5-16 Recoil
Summary: After barely surviving two attempts on her life, a wounded FBI agent seeks help from Team Gibbs to take down a kidnapping syndicate. This story would not exist without the continued amazing imput of Marianne, collaborator and beta extraordinaire!

Chapters: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

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Chapter Eight

“Chapter Eight”

Saturday seemed to drag by for everyone involved in the case. Phelps and his gang had their meeting and then parted ways to see to their individual assignments. Abby and McGee frantically searched for answers using Abby’s computers, deep in the bowels of NCIS. The occupants of Ducky’s home in Reston spent fitful hours fretting about a situation they had no control over, and Tobias continued his long vigil at the hospital, while Morgan, Tony and Gibbs slept the afternoon away.

Melissa Carter sat in her beautifully appointed prison, wondering if she would ever see her husband or friends again. She’d been here nine long days now, her only contact with the rest of humanity consisting of the three daily visits paid to her by a ski masked man. With each trip he’d deposit a food tray, removing the last one as he left. He would appear with no warning, wearing a black jumpsuit and purple latex gloves, his body so carefully concealed that she didn’t even have a hint as to his skin color. She didn’t even know what his voice sounded like, since he always wore a voice synthesizer. When she’d first gotten there she’d been relieved by his efforts at concealment, telling herself that if he was being so careful to hide his identify from her, then he didn't intend to kill her - she would get out of this, whatever this was, alive. At least that’s what she initially thought. But now, nine days later, she was beginning to have her doubts.

Melissa wanted her husband. They’d met while still in high school and dated all through college. They’d married soon after graduation, and he had enlisted in the Marines, while she headed off to college. That was twenty five years ago. Jeff, her husband, had served two tours in the Service before leaving, although he’d stayed in the Marine Corps Reserves. For years that hadn’t entailed much more than the occasional weekend and once a year month long retreats, allowing him to move up in rank (he was currently a Colonel) both in the Reserves and at his job, where he was an executive for a major national trucking firm, a job that had allowed him to utilize the logistical training he’d received while in the Corps. Then the Iraqi War had happened, and he’d been called up. Now he was in Afghanistan. Melissa had missed him, but they’d stayed in contact via phone and email.

They’d wanted children, but that had never happened, so they’d clung to each other, growing closer than many couples. They weren’t just lovers, they were each other’s best friend. Melissa wondered if he was worried about her yet. Did he realize she was missing, or had the kidnappers found some way to dispel his worries? She wouldn’t be surprised if they’d managed to do that, they had certainly done their research on her. As a matter of fact, they seemed to know so much about her, it was almost as scary as the actual abduction had been.

She’d gone to bed late one night, two Wednesdays ago, and when she’d awakened, she’d found herself in a nicely appointed room that she had never seen before. Fortunately there was an attached bathroom, so after using the facilities, she tried the door leading into the room, only to find it locked. Looking around she saw that there were no windows. She pounded on the door for the next fifteen minutes, screaming for someone to let her out, and had almost falling over when the door opened, and the disguised man had appeared for the first time.

He’ been incredibly polite when he addressed her in his synthesized voice, and patiently explained to her that she’d been kidnapped, but that she would be fine as long as she cooperated. Her company would be paying the ransom, after which she would be released. Melissa had stood mute, and was still trying to absorb that information, when he asked her very calmly what she would like to have for breakfast. She hadn’t been able to answer, and when, after waiting futilely for her response, the man had shrugged and said, “I’ll just bring you your usual today, okay? One toasted multi-grain bagel with peanut butter and sliced bananas, coffee and a small glass of orange juice coming up.” After naming her normal breakfast of choice with amazing accuracy, he then turned and left.

The unpleasant surprises had just kept piling up. When she’d explored the room while he was gone, she’d discovered the closet and dresser drawers filled with sweat suits, jeans, sweaters, pajamas, bras and panties, all in her size. As a matter of fact, the only kind of apparel she found no trace of was shoes. But that didn’t mean they didn’t know her shoe size, because there were slippers – terry cloth, velveteen, and satin ballet styled slip-ons. The bathroom was stocked with her favorite beauty products, and the medicine cabinet even contained her brand of toothpaste, dental floss, and mouthwash. There was a cafe style table, where apparently she was to take her meals. There was a tray on the table upon which were placed bottles of the vitamins she took daily. The depth of research done on her personal life, proven by these little touches, shook her badly.

That had been nine days ago. By now they had established a routine. The man would bring her the food, inquire after her health, ask if there was anything else she needed, then leave. She would thumb through the books she’d found in the room – all by her favorite authors, or surf the channels on the wide screen TV mounted on the far wall, near a very comfortable seating area, and try not to cry.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Many miles away, in Reston, VA, Courtney and Ziva were experiencing their own frustrations. Having to put on the dress Mrs. Mallard had provided her with had only been the beginning of what would prove to be a day of irritations for Courtney. After enduring the humiliation of having to be debriefed while wearing the ridiculous outfit, things had started to look up when she and Ziva had established a visual link with Abby, using Ducky’s computer. They’d worked together for over an hour, Courtney describing the attacker’s features, Abby madly typing away on her computer, Courtney looking at the results and offering suggestions, and Abby encouraging her with frequent outbursts of “You’re doing great!” or “It’s so cool how well you remember things!” or her personal favorite, “You’re a rock star!” Finally, Abby managed to produce a likeness that Courtney approved, and Abby had rushed off to start running it through the innumerable databases available to her, telling Courtney it would probably take several hours before they could hope for a hit, since recognition programs were slow, and that her baby (Courtney assumed she was referring to her computer) had to sift through a plethora of data. Then they’d moved on to his henchmen. That was when all the positive energy had come to a screeching halt.

Although Courtney could remember general information about the men, such as their height, approximate weight, body type, and hair color, she couldn’t seem to get a handle on the particulars of their features. She and Abby worked on it for over two hours, until Abby declared that the rather generic images she had created were about as good as it was going to get. Courtney had insisted they keep trying, saying she’d work harder to remember, but Ziva, who’d come in to the room towards then end, had disagreed.

“It will not get any better Courtney,” she said. “You have been working on it for over two hours now.”

“I can do this, Ziva,” Courtney had argued. “I’m remembering more details all the time.”

“No Courtney. You are not. You are exhausted and not thinking clearly. You must stop now, as you are keeping Abby from doing research on the case,” she said, not to be cruel, but knowing that Courtney’s sense of responsibility would make her stop, and then she could talk her young friend into taking a nap.

Ziva’s words served to persuade Courtney to stop for a while, and Abby had told her to get some rest, promising she would call when they got a hit, and telling the FBI agent that they could try to work on the other men again later. Courtney had allowed Ziva to steer her to her room, where Ducky and Dr. Hampton had joined them, wanting to take a look at Courtney’s shoulder. She’d changed back into the nightgown, so they’d have better access to the shoulder, and Ducky had been amused at the look of relief on her face, when she’d handed him back his mother’s dress, politely telling him how much she had appreciated it. While the doctors were examining Courtney, Ziva had excused herself to go check in with Balboa and his team.

After determining that the wound was beginning to heal, Dr. Hampton applied more antibiotic cream, and applied a fresh dressing. Ducky gave Courtney another round of antibiotics and pain killers, to ensure that she slept. When she had settled down under the covers, Ducky and Jordan had stepped out into the hallway, softly closing the door behind them. Reaching out, Ducky had placed his hand fondly on Jordan’s hip. “Well, this is certainly different from how I envisioned this weekend, my dear,” he said with a small smile.

As Jordan leaned her body into his, she said “Its okay, Donald. At least you know how to keep a girl entertained.” As he pulled her in a little closer, she pressed a warm kiss to his cheek.

After checking in with Balboa one more time and assuring herself that all was well, Ziva retired to the bedroom Ducky had provided her with, having chosen that one because it abutted the room Courtney was using. Closing the door, Ziva had wearily crossed to the dresser where she’d stored the overnight bag she’d retrieved from her car earlier, and pulled out fresh clothing, and a small bag filled with personal hygiene products. Then, stripping herself of her various weapons and shedding her rumpled clothes, she headed into the bathroom that was communally connected to both Courtney’s and her bedrooms. Turning on the shower to as hot as it would go, Ziva stepped in and allowed the water to relax her, before she turned to the more mundane tasks of washing her hair and body. When she was done, and had toweled off and dressed, she ran a comb through her wet hair and brushed her teeth. Her simple ministrations complete, she eased the door open that led to Courtney’s room and peeked in. Courtney lay in the bed, sound asleep. Ziva smiled when she saw how peaceful and content the sleeping woman looked, and as a small smile played across her lips, she said softly, “What works for the gander, is good for the goose.” She closed the door, crossed through the bathroom, and made her way to her own bed, lay down, and fell fast asleep. The non-stop tension she had felt when she had sole responsibility for Courtney's safety, along with everyone else in the house, had taken its toll on her. She was already tired when this had all begun, and had only slept for about six hours the day before, so now that Balboa's people were on guard, and she knew she could actually relax, she fell into a deep, restorative sleep

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

While Ziva slept, Abby and McGee were hard at work back at NCIS Headquarters. They had been going non-stop since Gibbs, Tony and Fornell had left, early that morning. Abby’s first chore of the morning had been making a copy of Fornell’s hard drive, so that she could secure the original in the safe in her office. She didn’t want to take the chance of anything happening to it, or of having the wrong person see it. She was well aware of the faith he was placing in her by allowing her access to the information contained on it, and she fully intended to safeguard it.

While she was occupied doing that, McGee had hacked into DC Metro's system with ease and got busy scanning through all the reports from yesterday, using Agent Courtney Kreiger as his search term, since she had been present at all three of the events involving the FBI. When he’d downloaded everything he could find in Metro’s system, McGee used Fornell’s access codes to download everything the FBI mainframe had on the cases, paying special attention to all the forensic reports. After looking them over, he’d been discouraged to discover that Fornell had been right. The attackers had been very careful, and the only thing that would be of any use was the pictures of each crime scene. There had been bullets retrieved from the SUV, as well as from the agents who had been shot, but when the FBI forensics lab had run it through their system they hadn’t gotten any hits, which meant the guns were virgins. At least they were now in the system, and if they were used again, they'd be matched immediately.

The pictures from the SUV attack were unbelievable, and he called Abby over to take a look. It was astounding that anyone had survived that attack, and they figured that with that much firepower, a lot of people must have been taking pictures of the excitement, if they weren't busy diving for cover. They also discussed the fact that the attack had occurred on a major thoroughfare, so there must have been traffic cams that they could hack to follow the SUV. That was the next order of business.

They decide that Abby would start working on the traffic cams around the building where the initial attack occurred, using the timeline given by Courtney during her debriefing. They knew everything started around 1300 on Friday, when Courtney left to get lunch, so starting around 1230, Abby started to download footage from all the cameras in a one mile radius. It was a very systematic search grid, and it was going to take her hours to check all the cameras for any vehicles approaching the building in question. They knew these guys were supposedly carrying heavy tanks, so they reasoned that they wouldn't have walked far, so the vehicle had to be nearby. Even if the building's cameras were taken off-line, other buildings adjacent to it, and across from it, both front and back had working cameras, so there was going to be a lot of footage to work through. Before she could get too far, Abby got called away from her search to work with Courtney on developing composite pictures of the men she’d seen in the lobby, which left McGee to continue scanning security cameras and traffic cams for any sign of the kidnappers/murders.

He decided to start with the second scene, the SUV attack. He began with all of the buildings in the vicinity, and after accessing each building's cameras, had then pieced together the entire scene, from the beginning of the attack to the end. He then followed the Hummer for as long as he could, using the traffic cams, and when they were no longer effective, since the Hummer moved off a main thoroughfare onto side streets, he had to resort to using individual building cameras to try to follow it. Finally, it just disappeared completely, and he couldn’t find any sign of it on any of the nearby cameras. He was completely baffled. Something as big as a Hummer couldn’t just disappear.

The Hummer’s vanishing act so frustrated McGee that he decided he needed to take a break from traffic and security cams. McGee decided to focus on the kidnappings for a while. Thanks to the FBI’s files, he now had the name of the kidnapping victim who had been murdered when his CEO had refused to pay the ransom - Morris Nussbaum, as well as the current victim – Melissa Carter. Since Melissa Carter was a Marine wife, McGee decided to start with her.

The FBI had already compiled a fair amount of background information on her that discussed her educational background, her marriage, and her employment record. The information included glowing letters of recommendation, which clearly detailed all of the accomplishments she had achieved in her career, and lauded her dedication and superior skills in her chosen profession. Since this gave him a fairly good overview of Melissa Carter, he decided to move on to her husband, knowing he could access his information more easily than the FBI through the NCIS system, since the man was a Marine.

McGee discovered that with every promotion Jeffrey Carter had received, the Corps had run a new background check, and of course, that included information on his wife. The Marine Corps file provided basic information on both Carters, and once he had been recalled to active duty, and was assigned as a Logistics Officer in first Iraq, and then later Afghanistan, a more in depth investigation had been performed by the FBI. The Colonel was charged with allocating millions of dollars, so the check run on him had been much more thorough than any previous one, and paid careful attention to his wife as well. Yet, despite all he now knew about Melissa Carter and her husband, he still had no clue as to what had brought her to the kidnappers’ attention.

While Abby had been working with Courtney, the FBI agent told her that Vic Merit had reported that the bad guys had posed as exterminators, which coincided with Courtney’s memory of them being dressed in coveralls and wearing gloves, as well as carrying heavy tanks. So after Abby had the search on the composite picture running, she’d started going back through the footage she had been downloading from all possible sources near the building. She had barely been able to contain her excitement when she located an exterminator's van, as identified by the logos on the sides of the van. ‘Now I have something to track!’ she thought, and went at it wholeheartedly. She was able to track it from various traffic and security cams. She was particularly pleased when a camera on the building opposite the one where the attack occurred picked up the three men leaving the building, via the loading dock, and immediately walking towards a black van, with tinted windows and logos for the extermination company. They got into the van and headed east. Abby pulled up the traffic cam footage and was able to track the van for about 5 miles. Then it pulled into a parking garage, and as far as she could tell, using all the cameras around the garage, it never left. By the time she had all this pieced together, hours later, her eyes were beginning to cross and she couldn’t think straight. Even Caf-Pow wasn’t helping any more, so to give her poor eyes a break, she got up to see what McGee was doing.

“Whatcha doing?” she asked, as she sidled up behind McGee, causing him to jump out of his skin.

“Geez, don’t do that!” he said.

“Do what?” Abby asked

“Go around sneaking up on people!”

“I wasn’t sneaking up on you! Why are you so grumpy?” she demanded to know.

“I’m sorry Abs,” McGee said, shaking his head. “It’s just I keep hitting brick walls. First the Hummer disappears from all cameras, and now, even though the files on Melissa Carter are really detailed, I still don’t have a clue as to why she was picked,” he explained.

“I know what you mean,” Abby said. “I thought I was doing great, had the van they were using, followed them to a garage, and then – nothing. I don’t see them leave, and the van never comes back out,” she said, as she reached down to massage McGee’s tense shoulders. “Tell you what, let me get my laptop, and I’ll call up Nussbaum’s files. Then we can compare him and Carter to each other, point by point. Two heads are better than one,” she said, as she ruffled McGee’s hair.

By this point, McGee was so frustrated that any new angle sounded like a good idea to him. “Sure, that’d be great,” he said.

While they were discussing this, Jenny, who had been at NCIS since 0700, decided to call it a night. She had come in to see what Gibbs was up to, and then deciding that since she was already there, she might as well stay and get some work done. If she was being truthful, she would have to admit that another reason she had stayed was so she would be readily available in case all hell broke loose and the FBI found out that NCIS was hiding one of their agents. She had almost been afraid to leave the office, in case something else happened and she wasn't on-site. But since it was almost 1800 and nothing disastrous had happened, she figured it was safe to leave. On her way out, she decided to stop down and check on Abby and McGee, before she left for the night.

As she stepped off the elevator on Abby’s floor, she became concerned when she wasn't bowled over by the usual noise masquerading as music blasting from the speakers. When she entered, she saw McGee and Abby both typing furiously on two computers which had been placed side by side.

She announced her presence, since they were so intent on their monitors, they were unaware that anyone had even entered the room. Their reaction caused her to pause mid step, as they both jumped and practically broke their fingers trying to black out their screens. Jenny tilted her head, and in an authoritarian voice, asked "What are you up to, Abby, and the truth would be a good place to start."

“Director Shepard,” Abby said in relief. “Sorry, we weren’t sure who had come in. Can’t let the wrong people know about this.”

Jenny studied the two technology experts. Both McGee and Abby looked slightly dazed, and there was an almost manic quality to Abby’s expression. “Have you come up with anything yet?” she asked.

McGee sighed, ‘Those are going to be the first words out of Gibbs’ mouth, too,’ he thought to himself. ‘I hope the Director takes the bad news better than he’s going to.’

“Not yet, but we're close. Really, really, really close,” Abby was assuring Jenny, who studied the young forensic scientist, and decided it might be best just to drop it for now.

“When you get something, I expect to be the second person you notify,” Jenny told them.

Abby grinned widely and nodded her head, "Yes Ma'am, right after Gibbs."

Jenny nodded back, and said seriously, "I know what you’re doing is important, but I want both of you to take a break sometime soon, and get something to eat. You've been in here for twelve hours and you need to stop and refuel, and not just coffee and Caf-Pow, but real food. Do something different, walk around for a few minutes. You can't just sit at your computers for that many hours and not lose focus. Am I clear, people?"

Abby and McGee both nodded their understanding of her orders, and Jenny turned to leave, saying, "I'll be on my cell if you find anything. I'm heading over to Bethesda to check on Langer and Merit, and see if Fornell's still functional. Call me the minute you find anything."

After she left, McGee turned and looked at Abby. “We’re really close?? I can’t believe you told her that.”

“Relax Timmy. You just have to believe. Think positive thoughts,” she said, waving her hands around as if she were casting a spell.

“I can’t think anymore at all – positive or negative,” McGee grumbled.

“Aw, poor baby. I think Madame Director was right. We need a break. It has been twelve hours since we started. So, what should we do?” Abby asked.

Deciding food and a more comfortable seat were in order, they went over to Abby’s futon and sat down, a stack of take out menus on their laps, intending to look through them and decide what they wanted to eat. As they reclined against each other, silently contemplating the merits of gyros over Chinese, McGee began to crash. He’d been awakened in the middle of the night by Gibbs, and had been unable to go back to sleep. Abby watched his eyes get heavier and heavier. When his head began to lull to the side, she scooted around and made her lap available as a pillow. McGee sank down, without really even thinking about it, taking advantage of her largesse, and before he even knew it, he began to doze. Abby sat and watched him for several minutes, his soft even breaths beginning to hypnotize her, and within ten minutes, they were both fast asleep.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sleeping did not appear to be an option for Fornell. As the day progressed a steady stream of agents appeared, bringing coffee and pastries, soft pretzels, and sandwiches, staying for a while to offer support, then leaving either to get back to work, or home to their families. Fornell was rarely alone, and although it was good to have the show of support, he would rather have had the time to himself to think about the case, and to formulate a new strategy to help solve it and catch these bastards. By the time 6:30 P.M. rolled around, Fornell was exhausted, and finally alone. He had been up for 36 hours, and all the coffee in the world wasn't going to keep him going much longer.

Just as he was about to doze off, Jenny Shepard walked into the waiting room, carrying coffee and a bag of food. She had passed a couple of FBI agents on her way in, and spoke briefly to Assistant Director Charles Alleyne, offering her condolences on the death of Assistant Director Glenn, then she proceeded up to the ICU Waiting Room, towards Tobias Fornell. On a personal level, Jenny liked Tobias, and recognizing his quasi-friendship with Jethro, she knew he had to be a good guy. But he was still FBI, and still an adversary as often as a friend. Their relationship was not close by any means. However, in this instance, in recognition of the death of his agents, and the precarious health of the ones currently being treated, as well as his agreement to work with NCIS, she felt it was safe to let her guard down more than usual with him. He looked terrible, exhaustion and stress clearly showing on his face, and in his posture. He was not a young man, and no matter how determined or how motivated, he was about to collapse if he didn't get some rest soon. With that thought in mind, Jenny was about to pull rank and order him home to get some sleep. She was prepared to offer to stay and keep vigil for his agents, if he would agree to get some sleep.

After their initial greetings, and the offering of the refreshments Jenny had brought, she was working up to sending him home when they heard footsteps approaching the waiting room. They both turned to see the new arrivals, and were greeted by Ed Morgan and Liz Templeton, both returning to check on the status of their teammates. Jenny was relieved to see them, and Tobias was not.

His greeting to them was less than welcoming, "I know I told you people to get some sleep, so what the hell are you doing back here?"

As they walked into the room, Templeton noted that Fornell was there along with a woman she vaguely recognized, but couldn't quite place. She expected to be introduced to her after Fornell calmed down.

Templeton stopped so abruptly at the anger in Fornell's voice she almost tipped over, but Morgan, who was much more familiar with Fornell's bark, since he had worked for the man for years, hardly reacted at all. He responded calmly, "They're my agents, and I'm responsible for them. This is where I should be. I appreciate your being here, and giving me a break, but this is where I belong, and you should be the one to go home and get some rest. Sir." The sir was tacked on as a less than subtle hint that Fornell was being an ass, and he knew he was, but he was too tired to rein himself in. He nodded at Morgan, acknowledging that he was right, but not verbalizing his agreement. Instead, he turned his attention to Templeton, and demanded, "What about you, Special Agent Templeton? What are you doing back here?"

Liz wasn't sure what to make of Morgan's response to Fornell, but she figured, if he could get away with it, so could she, and she responded, "They're my teammates, sir, and I felt this is where I should be."

Liz had gone home when Morgan essentially ejected her from the room, and she was aware he was angry with her. She had stepped over the line with DiNozzo, and she knew it, but he pushed all her buttons. He also had no right to be here, since there were two FBI agents wounded, not NCIS agents. ‘Yeah, yeah, solidarity, blah, blah, that wasn't it,’ she thought. He was like a puppy following Gibbs around, and just seeing him, after the day she'd had, well, he’d been too easy a target, and she needed to vent some of the frustration and impotence she felt. She had tried to sleep when she got home, but after only a couple of hours, her subconscious had prodded her awake, and she couldn't fall back to sleep, no matter how much she wished it to happen. She had showered, dressed, forced herself to eat some cereal, and then headed over to Bethesda. She needed to check on Brent and Vic, and see if there was any word on that kid, Kreiger. Jesus, what a clusterfuck!

She had run into Ed Morgan as she was getting off the elevator, and he looked about as bad as she felt. He wasn't happy to see her, and she knew as soon as things calmed down, he'd be 'having a talk with her' or more to the point, dressing her down for her behavior with DiNozzo. There really wasn't any excuse for it, and she had no defense. She'd take the reprimand, and try to avoid the bastard in the future.

Fornell was too tired to be diplomatic, and said off-handedly, "Ed Morgan, Liz Templeton, this is Jenny Shepard, Director, NCIS. Director, Ed Morgan, team leader, and Special Agent Templeton.”

Jenny had stood when Fornell did upon the arrival of the two newcomers. She was thinking he had as much grace as Jethro did when dealing with his own people, which is to say, none.

As Jenny was reaching out to shake hands with Morgan, two more FBI agents entered the room, as well as an Assistant Director, Todd Marshall, and Captain Richard DeAngelo, of DC Metro. They hesitated inside the door, but heard what she said to Morgan.

She held out her hand to Morgan, repeating virtually verbatim what she had said during an earlier call to the FBI Director, "We, at NCIS, were so sorry to hear about the attack on your agents, and please know that we will do everything in our power to lend any assistance you may need. We consider an attack on any federal agent unacceptable, and will treat the deaths of the five who were lost as though they were our own people. Since Special Agent Langer actually was one of ours a while ago, we take the attack on him, and Special Agent Merit very personally. The resources of our Agency will be available should you need them. Please don't hesitate to let us know what we can do to assist in finding the perpetrators."

Ed Morgan's smile, though forced, was sincere. "Thank you, Director, we appreciate the support. I'm sure our Director, or Special Agent Fornell will not hesitate to call on you if they feel NCIS can help us out."

Fornell nodded slightly as Jenny finished speaking, and realized she was genuinely offering her support, and at the same time misdirecting anyone who was curious about NCIS' involvement in the operation. He had always liked Jenny Shepard. Knowing she had been Gibbs' partner, he felt she could be trusted, but this was one of the first times he actually witnessed her during an undercover operation, and he was impressed. No one watching her interact with Morgan would ever guess that NCIS was already on the case, and working hard to find the bastards who were responsible for all this death and destruction. Her presence was easily passed off as a federal agency director making a courtesy call when another agency was facing a tragedy, and saying all the right things, nothing more. Very impressive, indeed.

Turning towards Fornell, Jenny said, "Special Agent Morgan was right Tobias, you should go home and get some sleep. He's here for his team, now, and to be frank, you look like hell. If you don't get some rest, you won't be any good to anyone. We may not be in the same chain of command but I'm going to pull rank here, if I have to, and order you to go home and sleep. My driver is downstairs, and I'll be more than happy to offer you a ride. "

Not about to be shown up by NCIS, FBI Assistant Director Marshall stepped closer to the group, and extended his hand, saying, "Director Shepard, we at the Bureau appreciate your support, and I agree with your assessment of Special Agent Fornell's condition." Releasing Jenny's hand, he turned to Fornell and said, "I AM in the same chain of command, and I'll make that an order, Fornell. You will accept the Director's kind offer of a ride, and go home. I'll stay with Morgan, and there are others here as well. Go home, now."

Fornell nodded in acquiescence, too tired to argue with anyone at that point. "Yes, sir," he responded, then turning to Jenny, he said, "Thanks, Director, I'd appreciate that ride."

Jenny nodded, then looking back at Morgan, she said, "These coffees are still hot, and I brought a couple of sandwiches, since I didn't know who had eaten last. Please, help yourself, and don't hesitate to call if we can be off assistance. I'd appreciate knowing if there are any changes in Special Agent Langer's condition."

Morgan nodded as he responded, "I'll make sure you are notified of any changes, Director, and thanks for stopping by and for the food and coffee. It's appreciated."

Jenny offered a smile as she picked up her coat, and turned to Fornell and said, “Come along Agent Fornell, let’s get you home.”







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