Caitlin Todd strode through the open elevator doors of the Naval Criminal Investigative Services building and made her way to her desk. Her stride faltered as she saw her partner, one Anthony DiNozzo, already at his desk, apparently hard at work.
“Good morning, Tony,” she said with a slight question in her voice. The response she received was a low growl.
“In a bad mood are we? Your latest bimbo refuse to put out last night?”
Tony gave her an insincere smile and laugh. “Funny, Kate. I’ll have you know, I didn’t have a date last night. I was a good little boy and went to bed early to catch up on my beauty sleep.” His eyes swept over Kate’s frame. “Looks like you could have used a lot more yourself.” Tony grinned at her and then focused once again on the papers he was sorting through.
Kate moved closer to his desk and looked at the papers covering his desk. “What are you doing?”
Tony sighed and looked up at her. “I’m trying to get all of my tax stuff together so that I can drop it off at my accountant’s this afternoon. He’s been hounding me for the past week, but I haven’t had time to do it because of the Miller case. I promised him he would have it this afternoon.”
“That crap had better be off your desk in fifteen minutes or it’s all going in the shredder, DiNozzo.”
Both Tony and Kate jumped at the voice. “You got it, Boss. Should be done with this in less then ten minutes,” Tony said brightly.
“Uh huh.” Leroy Jethro Gibbs stalked between Kate and Tony’s desks heading for his own.
Kate grimaced at Tony and then hurried back to her desk to finish up her report on the Miller case. As she passed by Gibbs’ desk she glanced in the trash can. There were already three empty coffee cups crumpled up in it. She glanced over at Tony and raised her eyebrows in question.
Tony glanced at the trash can and then back at her and shrugged his shoulders. He had no idea how long Gibbs had been at work. This was the first time he had seen him all morning and he had gotten in an hour ago at 6:30.
“Once you’re done with that, DiNozzo I expect to see your report on the Miller case on my desk before ten,” Gibbs said staring at Tony.
“Already in your inbox, Boss.”
Gibbs stared at Tony for a moment before reaching in his inbox. Tony breathed a sigh of relief and quickly finished organizing his tax information. He put the papers into the file folder and stuck the folder in his bag. He glanced over at Gibbs and saw that the former Marine was still reading his report.
He quickly pulled up a file on his computer and got to work clearing out some of his back paperwork. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Gibbs turn to the last page of the report. He sat tense at his desk waiting for Gibbs to bark out his name and toss the report back at him for a rewrite.
He relaxed and breathed a sigh of relief when Gibbs signed off on the report and placed it in his outbox. He had worked late last night to finish it up, knowing that this morning he would be going through the stuff for Steve. Steve was pissed at Tony for waiting so long to get his tax information to him, but it had been a busy month at NCIS. It seemed that the moment they finished one case another popped up, and it had left him no time to organize his papers into something Steve could use.
A message box popped up on his screen. It was from Kate. You use an accountant? Are you that bad at math that you can’t even do your own taxes?
Tony glared at Kate. She just smiled back sweetly. I don’t have time to mess with it. Between work and women… Tony typed back. The truth was, that he had so much paperwork to deal with, that the one time he had tried to do his own taxes he had ended up owing the government one million dollars. He’d gone crawling to Steve and begging for his help. Steve had made him promise to never try to do his own taxes again.
Tony had gladly promised. Besides his salary from NCIS, there was the trust fund his maternal grandfather had left him, the beach house his paternal grandmother had left him, the stocks and bonds he received as a graduation present from various aunts and uncles, and his half of the business that he co-owned with this cousin… it was just too much for him to handle on his own. He had enough pressure working under Gibbs. He didn’t want to add the risk of a tax evasion charge. He just knew the mileage that Kate would get out of that. Not to mention the pink slip that Gibbs would hand him.
He had just gotten into the rhythm of the paperwork when Gibbs’ phone rang. Tony crossed his fingers and prayed that it wasn’t a case. If it was a case he didn’t know how he was going to get his stuff to Steve.
“Grab your gear,” Gibbs said hanging up the phone.
Tony groaned and his head dropped before opening his drawer and pulling out his gun. It figured. Steve was gonna kill him.
“Tony, measure and sketch. Kate, photograph. McGee, you’re with me,” Gibbs barked out the orders as they arrived at the crime scene.
Tony grinned as Timothy McGee’s face blanched. It didn’t matter how many times Gibbs gave that order, it always terrified the new agent. Tony entered the room with the body and pulled out his sketch pad.
“Good morning, Anthony. I trust your day is going well?” Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard asked from where he was bent over the body.
“Not bad I guess. I just wish that we had, had one day off. I need to get to my accountant’s office to drop of my tax paperwork and I can’t do that if I’m working a case.”
Ducky laughed quietly. “Yes, I can see how that would be a problem. Could you not call your accountant and have him stop by the office to pick up your papers?”
Tony thought for a moment. “Yeah, I guess I could do that.” His mood lifted for a moment before crashing back down. “No, that won’t work. I don’t know when Gibbs might send us chasing after a lead.”
“Not a problem. Put your papers in a sealed envelope and leave them with me. Tell your accountant to contact me and I’ll run them up to him. Or if I’m in the middle of something I could send Palmer up with them.” The Medical Examiner looked up at Tony with an expectant look on his face.
Tony grinned at him. “Ducky, you are a lifesaver.”
“Yes, so I’ve been told,” Ducky chuckled.
“What’ve you got, Duck?” Gibbs asked from behind Tony. Tony jumped and rolled his eyes. Someday, Gibbs wouldn’t be able to sneak up on him anymore. That day would probably be when he was dead, but still, it was someday. He quickly finished up his sketch and started on the measurements.
Ducky motioned to the young man lying on the flood. “One gunshot wound to the chest. I’d say death was instantaneous but I won’t say that until I get him on the table.”
“What was the time of death?”
“Give me a moment, Jethro, I only got here a few moments before you did, and I didn’t want to disturb the body until you got the pictures and measurements.”
“I’m all done, Boss,” Tony called out.
“Done here too,” Kate added.
“Well, Duck, looks like that means you can find me a time of death,” Gibbs said grinning at the older man.
“Very funny, Jethro.” Ducky checked the dead man’s pockets. He pulled out a wallet and handed it to Gibbs.
Gibbs opened it up and looked through it. “Geoffrey Gains. Virginia drivers license, but no military ID.”
“That’s odd. This is Navy housing. What’s a civilian doing here?” Kate asked.
“Who’s the place assigned to?” Tony wondered.
“A Lt. Gina Travis,” McGee said entering the room.
Tony held up one of the framed photographs from the top of the dresser. “I think Geoff and Gina were an item.” The photograph was of the dead man and a woman in a Navy uniform hugging.
“Jethro, I’m estimating the time of death between 11 last night and 3 this morning.”
“Thanks, Duck.” Gibbs nodded at Ducky and then turned to his team. “Kate, McGee, you two stay here and process the rest of the house. DiNozzo, lets go find Lt. Travis.” Kate, McGee, and DiNozzo followed Gibbs out into the trashed living area. Tony stopped dead in his tracks.
Gibbs turned around and looked at him. “You comin’, DiNozzo?” he asked with barely concealed annoyance.
Tony held up a finger. “Ducky?”
“Did you see any marks on Gains to show that he’d been in a fight?”
Ducky frowned and thought. “No. There was no bruising, or any scratches or scrapes. Why?”
Tony moved his hand to encompass the room. “This place is trashed, and it’s not the kind of trashed of someone looking for something. It’s trashed as if there was a major fight. An altercation like that would leave marks on the body.”
The others looked around the room and realized that Tony was right.
“Before we jump to conclusions lets see if we can find Lt. Travis,” Gibbs said.
Captain James Longstreet motioned waved at the two chairs in front of his desk. “Please take a seat.” He waited until the two NCIS agents sat down. “What can I do for NCIS?”
“Did Lt. Gina Travis show up for work today?” Gibbs asked.
“No, she didn’t. She didn’t even call and that’s not like her. I called her quarters but there was no answer. What’s going on?”
“Her boyfriend was found dead in her quarters this morning.”
Capt. Longstreet sat back in his chair, a look of shock on his face. “Lt. Travis?”
Gibbs shook his head. “We’re looking for her.”
“Did she ever mention Geoffrey Gains?” Tony asked.
“Yes. She was sure that he was going to be asking her to marry him soon. She was starting to collect bridal magazines. She even asked her best friend to be her maid of honor.” Capt. Longstreet stared at the top of his desk. “I met him once or twice. He seemed like a great guy. He treated Lt. Travis well and he was clearly in love with her.”
“What about her? Did she love him?” Gibbs asked.
“Very much so. They talked often on the phone. She did her work and was never late, but I did have to admonish her a few times to not use the phones so often for personal time.”
“Did Lt. Travis ever mention having any problems with anyone? A co-worker? A former boyfriend? One of Gains’ former girlfriends?” Tony asked.
“No, but then she wouldn’t have mentioned that to me. She would have told Lt. Lynda James. They’re best friends.”
Tony glanced over his notes as he and Gibbs walked back to the car. “Well, that didn’t give us much information.”
“It gave us someone else to talk to.”
Tony glanced over at his boss. As always he wished he knew was the former Marine was thinking. He had been surprised when Gibbs had chosen him to do the interviews. Usually Gibbs chose Kate, because she was a profiler and that was more helpful then a former police detective.
“Lt. Lynda James. She called in sick today. Odd coincidence.”
Gibbs didn’t reply. He just gave Tony a look that Tony had never been able to interpret. Was it a ‘good, you’re finally thinking’ look, or was it an ‘I’m disappointed it took you this long to think of it’ look. Working for Gibbs was like walking a minefield. You never knew what was going to cause the older man to go off.
They got in the car and Tony grabbed the door handle as Gibbs peeled out of the parking lot.
It became clear when Lt. Lynda James opened the door, why she called in sick. Tony took a step back at the smell of vomit. The woman was using the door to hold herself up and she looked rather green around the edges.
“Lt. Lynda James?” Gibbs asked.
“Yes?” Lynda moaned.
“NCIS. I’m Special Agent Gibbs, this is Special Agent DiNozzo. Do you mind if we come in?”
“This might not be the best-“ Lynda clasped a hand over her mouth as she turned even more green. She left the door open as she ran towards the back of the apartment.
DiNozzo and Gibbs looked at each other before entering the apartment and closing the door behind them. They could hear the sound of retching coming from the bathroom. They stood in the entryway of the apartment and waited for Lt. James to return.
A few minutes later she came out of the bathroom. “Sorry ‘bout that. I have a nasty stomach flu. I’ve been puking for the past two days.” She sat down on the couch and motioned for Tony and Gibbs to do the same. “So what can I do for you?”
“When was the last time you spoke to Gina Travis?” Tony asked.
“We had dinner three days ago, on Friday. It was just before I got sick. We were supposed to go up to the mountains. There are some great hiking trails. But I got sick, so she and Geoff were gonna go alone. Don’t know if they did though. Why?”
“Lt. Travis is missing, and Geoffrey Gains was found murdered in her apartment,” Gibbs said watching her reaction closely.
Tony would have said it was impossible but Lynda paled even more. “Oh God.” Tony prepared himself to jump to her rescue if she fainted, which she looked like she might do, any second. She fell backwards on the couch and held her hand in front of her mouth, like she was trying to hold back bile.
Once Tony was sure she wasn’t going to end up falling on her face he stood up and went into the small kitchen and got a glass of water. He returned to the living room where he handed Lynda the glass.
She took the glass and took a small sip before setting it down on the table. “Who-“ her voice cut off on a sob.
“We don’t know that yet. Can you think of anyone that would want to harm Lt. Travis or Mr. Gains?” Tony asked.
“No. No, everyone liked them. They didn’t have any enemies. Or at least Gina didn’t. I don’t know about Geoff, but I think everyone liked him too. He’s a… he was a teacher. At Hayfield Secondary.”
Gibbs stood up and held out his card. “If you can think of any thing else, please give me a call.” Lynda took the card and watched as Tony and Gibbs left the apartment.
“Well, that pretty much matches up with what Travis’ boss told us. Everyone liked them, they had no enemies,” Tony said as the walked down the hall towards the stairs.
“They had at least one enemy.” Gibbs took out his cell phone and hit the speed dial. “Kate, are you done at the scene? Good, get back to the office and get me a full background on Travis and Gains.” Gibbs closed his cell phone with a snap.
“Where to next, Boss?”
“Hayfield Secondary to talk to his co-workers. They might know something.”
Tony nodded and then thought about the route that they would have to take to get to the school. “Hey, Boss? Can we make a small little detour on the way to the school? I gotta drop my tax stuff off with my accountant.” Tony shut his mouth at the glare Gibbs gave him.
“Get in the car, DiNozzo.”
Tony didn’t say a word but he quickly got in the car. He guessed that the answer was no. He rested his head back against the head rest and tried to figure out a way to sneak off for about an hour to drop the paperwork off. He quickly came to the decision that if he did that, his desk would be cleared off and there would be a pink slip waiting for him when he got back.
He was jolted from his thoughts when the car came to a screeching halt. He looked around and realized that they were parked in front of his accountant’s office. He looked over at Gibbs in shock. “How did you-“
“You’ve got five minutes, DiNozzo. If you’re not back in that time, I’m leaving without you.”
Tony stared at him in shock for a few moments, before scrambling for his paperwork and bolting from the car.
Gibbs waited until DiNozzo was out of site before letting the grin escape. He knew he shouldn’t take such joy in confusing the younger man, but bewilderment was such an attractive look on DiNozzo.
He kept a close eye on the time. He wouldn’t really leave DiNozzo if he was longer then five minutes, but he would move the car so that it would appear as if he had left him. There was thirty seconds left when the passenger side door opened and DiNozzo practically fell in.
Gibbs pulled the car away from the curb almost before Tony’s door shut.
“Shit!” Tony scrabbled for his seat belt. “You trying to kill me, Boss?”
Gibbs’ response was a hard left turn that threw Tony against the car door.
Tony fidgeted as he sat in the hard plastic seats. He’d always hated this feeling, but some how he’d thought that he had out grown it. He supposed that having spent so much of his school years waiting in chairs just like these, that it had almost turned into a Pavlovian reaction. If you are waiting to be called into the principal’s office, you must fidget.
Tony squirmed again, but was stopped by a hand being smacked against the back of his head, hard. “Ow! What the hell was that for?” he asked Gibbs.
“Stop moving around.”
Tony’s response was cut off by the secretary motioning them into the office. They entered the office and the principal held out his hand.
“I’m Roger Velcan. What can I do you gentlemen?”
“We’re here to talk about Geoffrey Gains,” Gibbs said taking a seat.
“Ah, Geoff, he’s a history teacher here. I’m afraid he’s not in today. He didn’t call in, so I can’t tell you where he is.”
“We know where he is. He was found this morning. Murdered.”
“My God. Please tell me this is a joke?”
“I’m afraid not, Mr. Velcan,” Tony said gently.
“Why is the Navy dealing with this? Why not the local police?”
“He was found in the quarters of Lt. Gina Travis,” Gibbs replied.
“Gina’s place? She didn’t kill him.”
“You say that like you know.”
“I do know. Gina would never have killed Geoff. If you are holding her as a suspect, you need to let her go. She’s innocent.”
Tony looked over at Gibbs before replying. “We aren’t holding her as a suspect. We are trying to find her. She’s missing. She might be a victim of the person who killed Mr. Gains. Did he have any enemies that you know of?”
“Gina’s missing? How much worse can this get?” The principal’s voice trailed off. His back straightened and he looked at them with conviction. “Geoff had no enemies. Everyone liked him. Even his students. Sure he had a few kids that were problem kids, every teacher does, but it was never enough to be overly concerned about.”
“What about problems, gambling? Alcohol?”
“No. Geoff would have a beer or two at get togethers, but I never saw him drunk. He couldn’t stand the hard stuff. Said it tasted like crap.
“As far as gambling is concerned, Geoff didn’t even join in on the office football pool.”
“How well did you know Lt. Travis?”
“Not very well, she only came to a few faculty functions, but what little I’ve talked to her, she seems like a very level headed young lady.
“As a matter of fact, last week Geoff was showing off a ring he had bought. I believe he was planning on asking her to marry him soon. All of the teachers were talking about it in the lounge. Everyone was excited for him. We all knew that she would say yes.”
Tony sighed as he lowered himself into the car. “Great, another dead end. Everyone’s saying the same thing. ‘They were great people. A sweet couple. Of course they didn’t have enemies’. I hate cases like this.” Tony thumped his head back against the head rest and stared up at the ceiling of the car.”
“McGee and Kate should have something by now on their finances,” Gibbs said as he pealed out of the parking lot.
Tony thought about grabbing the Jesus bar, but he had learned that the more he showed how Gibbs’ driving effected him, the worse Gibbs drove. He settled back in the seat and closed his eyes. His hands clenched where Gibbs couldn’t see them. It was a good thing he loved Gibbs, he mused, otherwise killing him would be far too tempting to resist sometimes.
“What’ve you got?” Gibbs demanded the moment the elevator doors opened.
Kate jumped and sat back in her chair. She turned to face Gibbs and Tony. “You’re back.”
“Yeah,” Gibbs drew the word out. “What. Do you. Have? Don’t make me ask again.”
“Um, well, Lt. Travis was living well with in her means. No large debts or credits,” Kate supplied.
“Same for Gains,” McGee added. “The only large purchase he’d made recently was at a jewelry store. It was for a-“
“Diamond engagement ring,” Gibbs interrupted.
“Yes, Boss. He was a history teacher with the Fairfax County School System. He worked at-”
“Hayfield Secondary.” This time it was Tony who interrupted. “We know. We already talked to the principle. Everyone loved him. Everyone loved her. They were the perfect couple.”
“So we have no motive. Dig deeper. Family history. The person they had a fight with over the finger paints in kindergarten. Find me something,” Gibbs growled.
Tony started to answer when Gibbs’ phone rang. Tony stayed when he was standing while Gibbs took the call. It was a short conversation.
“Grab your gear,” Gibbs said as he hung up the phone. Tony hurried back to his desk to get his stuff. “We have another one.”
The crime scene looked almost identical to the last one, except that the dead civilian was female and the missing Lt. was male. Tony sketched the scene while Ducky looked over the body.
“It looks exactly like the last one. One bullet, straight to the heart. No sign of defensive wounds,” Ducky said.
“So chances are good, they knew their attacker,” Gibbs mused. “Tony, when you’re finished here, see if you can find any friends or associates that the two couples had in common.”
“You got it, Boss.” Tony finished up the measurements and sketches.