Date: August 22, 2011
Universe: NCIS, Season 10: Episode just before "Shabbat Shalom".
Spoiler Note: Episode 10.11 "Shabbat Shalom" aired just as I was finishing this story. I was left with the dilemma of keeping that character
in my story, or rewriting that character out. I chose to keep her in.
Summary: Very Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo finds himself in a unique situation with Director Vance's two children.
Tony pulled up to the curb, shoved the car into Park and cut the engine. He was just about to get out when a tug on his coat sleeve stopped him. "What?"
Ziva leaned closer and said, "You seem uptight. Is everything okay?"
"Not really. I'm supposed to be meeting Danielle tonight for our second date. Considering my recent track record, just getting a second date is this side short of a miracle."
"Then you should be happy."
"Except she sent me a text asking me to call her. Who sends a text like that? Why didn't she just call me?"
"Danielle? Isn't she a little old for you?"
"Don't go there. Besides, I'm trying something new. Maybe I want to date someone closer to my age; someone a little wiser, someone a little more experienced."
"I see. In that case, isn't she a little young for you?"
Tony pulled his arm away and got out of the car. "I'm not exactly sure what we're doing here. Seems like Director Vance could get any number of agents to guard his family."
"He could, and he did, but Gibbs wanted us to do it."
"Seems like a job for the FBI, if you ask me."
"It should be, but we didn't," said a voice from the shadows of the driveway, "—ask you, that is."
"Fornell," Tony acknowledged, "and Agent Slacks. Nice of you to do your job, but my question remains. If you're here, why are we?"
"You'll have to ask your fearless leader that one, DiNotzo, but if I were to guess, I'd say it was to offer protection to the Director of NCIS and his family."
"Why aren't you doing it, especially since you're already here?"
Fornell shrugged and Tony couldn't tell if he was glad to not have the assignment, or insulted.
"Just my luck," Tony whined. "What are the odds of Director Vance witnessing a murder?"
"Probably as good as you getting a second date from Danielle."
"It's a moot point, since he did," Fornell said.
"Did what? Get a second date or witness a murder?"
"Who are we talking about?" Agent Sachs asked, reminding everyone that he was still there.
Ignoring the turn the conversation had taken, Fornell continued, "You just have to make sure your Director gets to the courthouse in time to testify."
"Exactly when is that? And are we supposed to be round-the-clock protection for him, or will the FBI spell us?"
"Another moot point, Agent DiNotso. Your boss makes all the decisions on this one, and if I were a betting man, I would bet that you're it."
Tony watched them leave, feeling his annoyance at the whole affair building. Looking across the darkness, he asked, "Who's that?"
Ziva looked in the direction that Tony was staring. Across the street was a black sedan with a man sitting in the driver's seat. "That is Agent Sanders. He has been assigned to watch the house tonight. Like us, he would rather be out on a date, but Gibbs called him in."
Tony grunted, still annoyed but beginning to feel the importance of the situation. "The Director really stepped in it this time," he mused, walking up the sidewalk. "He takes his wife out to celebrate their wedding anniversary and, BAM!, they end up being the only eye witness to a 1930's style hit taking place right there in the very restaurant where they're eating. And if that isn't bad enough, he can identify the murderer, Guido DaVoodi, the well known East Coast Mafia kingpin." It all reminded him too much of his days in Baltimore, working undercover in the Mafia. His shoulders shivered at the memory. "What a name! Who names their kid Guido?"
Ziva shrugged, but when she caught him glaring down at her, she toned, "Do not quarrel with me. Like you, I would rather be going out with John tonight."
"Nevermind." She knocked on the front door and smiled when McGee opened it. "Sorry we are late. He's being grouchy."
Agent McGee stepped aside and allowed them to enter.
They stood in the foyer; she, ignoring her partner's question, and he, hoping to extract an answer simply by staring at her.
Having no idea what they were talking about, McGee said, "Gibbs is in the kitchen with Director Vance."
Tony allowed his thoughts to move on and he looked around. Nice house, he thought, but he had no idea where the kitchen was located, so he continued to stand in the middle of the foyer. Halfway up the staircase, Ziva noticed two youngsters peering down on them. She smiled and commented, "I did not realize Director Vance's children were so young."
Kayla, the older daughter, straightened her back and squared her shoulders. She was going to be thirteen shortly and she didn't consider herself a little kid anymore.
"Their mother just sent them upstairs to do their homework."
"So, where's the kitchen, McGPS?"
Tim closed the door and led them through the dining room and into the kitchen. They appeared to have interrupted a somewhat contentious discussion, and, as such, they stood silently, implementing the adage that it's better to be seen and not heard. Finally, the awkward silence forced Vance to make introductions. "Jackie, this is Special Agents Anthony DiNozzo and Ziva David. This is my wife, Jacqueline Vance."
"Pleased to meet you, Mrs. Vance. I'm sorry for this intrusion," Ziva said.
Jackie smiled, wanting desperately to change the subject from the previous conversation and thankful for the opportunity to do just that. "I'm not worried as long as Leon's not worried. And as far as I can tell, he's not worried as long as Gibbs isn't worried."
Her husband smirked, not at all liking his personal affairs being set out on display in front of his subordinates, but he couldn't pinpoint if his displeasure was with the exposure, or this particular team. "Let's take this into the other room. It's getting crowded in here."
Tony and Ziva stepped aside as the Director, his wife, and Gibbs walked by.
"I know a thing or two about witness protection, Gibbs. I didn't get where I am today never having put together a plan or two that ensured the safety of a few high profile personnel."
"I didn't say you haven't. All I'm saying, Leon, is the best way to protect you and your family is to separate you from each other. Jackie and the children should be taken to a safe house. You should be anywhere but here, with 24-hour protection, until you testify."
"Oh no, Agent Gibbs. I'm not leaving my husband."
This was a conversation that Tony, Ziva, and McGee did not want to be privy to. In their own way, each distanced themselves from it. Tony feigned interest in a bookshelf; McGee looked intently at the home theater set-up, and Ziva admired the house, almost missing the faces peeking around the corner. Two sets of dark eyes were staring intently into the room, and one set was seemingly fixed on her partner. That made her smile and she and McGee shared a knowing glance at a young girl's infatuation. Her partner had yet to notice his admirer.
Remembering how Gibbs felt about lawyers and how stubborn his own wife could be, Vance changed the subject, "Does Ms. Hart have the documents ready? She was supposed to have the layout of the shooter in relation to the victim based on Ms. Scuito's calculations."
M. Allison Hart had been recruited to offer legal advice so that the evidence would result in a conviction. In a case such as this, nobody wanted a mistrial, or worse, it thrown out. Gibbs shrugged, and turned away, catching the sparkle of Kayla's eyes as she stared up at his senior field agent. Her gaze reminded him of another time, and another little girl, and it seemed like everyone in the room was aware of the girl's fascination, save for one. The object of her affection was completely oblivious; instead, he was currently checking his phone, and frowning, no doubt deep in thought over his latest dilemma.
"Kayla!" Jackie admonished, startling Tony into noticing the young girl for the first time. "You should be upstairs doing your homework."
Tony smiled down at her, awkwardly, not quite understanding why she was staring up at him.
Jared goaded, "She wanted to meet him."
"I did not!"
"All right! That's enough. These agents have work to do."
Ziva couldn't help herself and offered, "Part of our job is to look after your children, Mrs. Vance. I'm sure Agent DiNozzo wouldn't mind helping them with their homework."
"Really?" Kayla said, her excitement evident in her smile. "That would be great! You can help me first!"
"That's not fair," Jared countered. "He should help me first!"
Gibbs smiled at Tony's current dumbfounded expression. He really didn't have a clue when it came to children.
"I don't think I would be very good with homework. I wasn't the best student," he stammered. "But McGee here, he was a great student—"
"Pleeeez…" Kayla begged, taking his hand and pulling him towards the stairs. "I can play a song on my piano for you."
Jared grabbed his other hand and pulled, "Can you show me how to shoot a basketball? My dad tells me that you used to play for Ohio and that you can teach me how to shoot a basketball?"
Tony looked for help from anyone, but all he got were crooked grins and finger waves as he was dragged up the steps.
Jackie shook her head, "I'm sorry, Agent Gibbs. These school girl crushes are going to be the death of me."
"Yes he will…" Ziva mused, sharing a wink with McGee. She moved towards the windows and looked out into the darkness. Her pupils dilated when she caught a glimpse of some movement. The hairs on her neck raised, and she put her hand on her gun.
"What is it?"
"I'm not sur—"
The window exploded as the bullets ripped through it. "Get down!" Gibbs shouted to Vance, who pulled his wife down and covered her body with his own.
"Cut the lights!" Ziva ordered.
McGee hit the switch and joined his boss and partner at the window. Bright muzzle flashes could be seen as they riddled the house with gunfire. Gibbs caught a glimpse of Saunders, his body slumped forward over the steering wheel.
Tony was at the top of the stairs when he had heard the first gunshot blast. He quickly scooped up the boy and grabbed the girl's hand, hauling them into a back bedroom and slamming the door hard behind him. "What's going on?" Kayla asked, wide eyed.
Looking around, he ignored her question and asked one of his own, "Have you ever snuck out of your house before?"
"Nevermind." He yanked the curtains back and looked out. It was dark with plenty of tree cover; that was good enough for what he had in mind.
"We have visitors, and not the good kind." He stooped down to her level and asked, "I need you to do exactly what I say and you'll be okay. Can you do that?"
She nodded, eyes as big as saucers.
"Good." He pulled all the linens off the bed and dropped them out the window. "I'm going to lower you down as far as I can. Then, I'm going to drop you onto those pillows. Just roll with the fall and you'll be fine. Jared will come next, and I'll come last. Keep quiet and stay in the shadows of the house. Got it?"
She nodded, looking over her shoulder each time she heard the deafening noise tearing up the house below. She went out the window first and dropped softly onto the padding. Jared fell nicely onto the pillows and Kayla grabbed him and pulled him close to the house. They watched the much larger man hit the pillows and roll, but he didn't land so softly.
Tony was just thankful he hadn't broken anything.
Downstairs, it had become quiet. Jackie was holding onto her husband, while Gibbs, Ziva and McGee were staring down the barrel of three semi automatic hand guns. Each man who entered the room wore the same dark suit, the same short cropped hair, and carried enough lead on his belt to sink a flotilla. As if on cue, several of the goons parted to allow a smaller, yet similarly dressed, man through. His eyes were cold and his expression stolid. As he entered, he sensed the dangerous scent of the raven haired Israeli, and warned, "Don't anyone try to be a hero and nobody will get hurt."
"What do you want?" Gibbs asked.
"I want insurance, Special Agent Gibbs. Actually, my boss wants it, and he's paying me good money to get it." He ticked his head to his subordinates and two of them turned and left.
"What are you talking about?" Vance toned.
"I'm talking about your testimony on Friday, Director Vance. Not too many juries can argue with the testimony of a federal agent, much less with the Director of NCIS."
"You planning on killing us?" Jackie said.
"No. That would be foolish and non-productive. My boss wants off, not another murder rap against him. My plans involve helping you remember exactly what you saw on that fateful night. But my boss didn't think you'd change your testimony just because we asked you nicely. He thinks you're going to need a little persuasion to do that, which is why I'm here. We intend on borrowing your children just until after the arraignment."
"The Hell you are!" Vance hissed.
The guns rose in tandem and prevented the steely eyed black man from approaching the more diminutive white one, but the gesture was wasted on him because Vance was holding back his wife.
"I like a woman with spunk. I dare say if it weren't for your husband, you'd take a swing at me."
She narrowed her eyes and replied, "If you touch my children, I'll take more than a swing."
One of the hired muscle appeared in the doorway and, like a good soldier, reported, "Mr. Testidori?"
"What is it?"
"We can't find 'em."
"What do you mean, 'you can't find them'. We know they're here."
"I'm sorry, Mr. Testidori, but they aren't upstairs or downstairs. We've looked everywhere."
Testidori turned and faced the Director and Mrs. Vance. He stared long and hard at them before determining that they knew nothing. Then, he turned his attention to the silver haired agent. When DaVoodi hired him to handle this matter, he'd done his homework and he knew everything there was to know about Leroy Jethro Gibbs, Ziva David, Timothy McGee, and Anthony DiNozzo. "Where's the other agent, Special Agent Gibbs?" he calmly asked.
"I don't know what you're talking about."
Testidori sized up his opponent. He even had his goons raise their guns in his direction, but he soon realized that there was no way for any of them to have known that they were coming tonight, and no way for them to have come up with a plan so quickly. Staring him down, he eventually turned to his goons and seethed, "Search the place again. Pull up the carpeting if you have to. I want those kids… And I want that agent—DiNozzo!"
All but two of the muscle left the room, and Testidori paced a few minutes, calming himself down. Eventually, he explained, "As I've already said, Director Vance, come Friday when you and your wife testify before the grand jury, I'm expecting you to substantially alter your recollection of the events. If you do that, you'll see your children again. If you don't, then I shudder to think what might happen to them."
Vance took a step forward, but pulled up, understanding the situation far too well. He quietly toned, "You're scum."
"Perhaps, but I'm rich scum."
"Mr. Testidori!" the goon said, bursting into the room and pausing only long enough to catch his breath. "I'm telling you, they're gone! Nowhere in this house!"
He whipped around and snarled, "How can they be gone!"
"The house is empty. It looks as though they went out the window!"
Gunfire interrupted the command and Testidori jerked the drapes on the window and caught the rear lights of a car as it burned rubber peeling away from the curb.
Gibbs suddenly had chills when he realized what must have happened, and what Tony managed to do. Silently, he mouthed, "Run, Tony, run."
Testidori glared a second before shouting, "After them!"
All but three hired muscle raced from the room, leaving his boss and two other goons to guard their hostages.
Gibbs, David and McGee were apart from Vance and his wife while they waited anxiously for some news. Gibbs stared at the hit man, knowing the news Gibbs was waiting for was far different from the news Testidori was waiting for.
The hit man appeared calm and calculated, while his lackeys were anything but. Ziva kept every sense open to possibilities and they knew it, insisting that one entire gun be aimed at her at all times. The waiting seemed to have gotten to one of suits because he eventually aimed his gun at Vance and angrily offered, "Let's just blow them away right now and be done with it!"
Testidori put a hand out and lowered the gun, "Take it easy, Rory. We don't kill anybody we aren't paid to kill, except maybe an agent named DiNozzo; he'll be a gratis, on the house, so to speak. Rest assured, Rory, they won't get away. We'll have them picked up within the hour." Glowering at the Head of NCIS, he smugly added, "Then it'll be up to you, Director, and your testimony on Friday as to what happens to them."