Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Perfect Crime: An NCIS FanFic Episode: Part II

Below lies the next 2100 or so words of my short, NCIS fanfic story, The Perfect Crime. Come back this weekend for the final chapter.

The Perfect Crime, Part II

For some reason Tony couldn’t get a decent cell signal in his Newport News hotel room, so he’d gone to the 7-11 for a soda, and called Ziva when he saw he got four bars. He was certainly above gossip, but the team would never forgive him for not keeping them up on what was going on. Just the facts.

“I purchased her book,” Ziva announced instead of saying “hello.” “And I have nearly finished reading it. I stayed up all last night.”

“Ziva, Gibbs told you to . . .” 

“Do you know that it’s all in there, Tony? The ex-lover, the pretend electrocution . . .” 

Something hot shot down his spine. “She wrote about electrocution? And a cover up?” 

“If you would stop interrupting me I would tell you! Yes, Tony, she did. It’s all in here.” 

Her last four words sounded tinny. “Am I on speaker?” 

“Hi, Tony!” That was Abby. “Yes. You’re on speaker now. Captain Haas had drugs in his system, by the way, including a slow-acting but very painful poison. Where’s Gibbs? I need to tell him.” 

“At the hotel, I assume, where I am headed back to. I don’t get a signal there, and so you need to call the landli. . .” 

“As I was saying . . .” Ziva sounded annoyed. More than normal. “It is all in here. A woman returns to the city where she grew up. She pretends it is because she wants to finally come home, but it is so that she can kill her ex-lover. A Navy officer, Tony. She electrocutes him in a bathtub to cover up that she drugged and tortured him. Do I need to remind you the book is called The Perfect Crime?” 

Tony’s mouth had gone dry. “Why? Why did she kill him?” 

Abby answered him. “She was a spy, Tony. For some Middle East terrorist group. And he had top security clearance, and ties in the Middle East, just like Captain Haas. She, the woman in the book, tried to recruit her ex-lover to her cell, but when he said ‘no,’ she and some ‘friends’ tortured him for what secrets he had and then killed him.” 

“And Tony,” Ziva added, not gently, “she got away with it by seducing the investigator assigned to her case.” 

Tony snapped closed his phone. “It can’t be that obvious. Can she?”

The knock seemed more strident this time, and it interrupted Al Martino’s “True Love” right at the part she liked best. What were the odds of that? The one song she’d been waiting all afternoon to hear, too. With a harrumph, and not bothering to turn off, or even down, the music, Brooklyn stood from her computer chair and strode in bare feet across the close-cut oatmeal carpet to the front door.

She flung it open to find Gibbs. Just Gibbs. In jeans, this time, below his jacket and pressed shirt. But that wanting she’d thought she’d glimpsed last time they’d met was now buried underneath something grimmer.

“Come in,” she invited, because she knew he’d ask anyway, and she didn’t want the formality her hesitation would invite to steal what little attraction remained between them.

When he was seated, and she’d brought more coffee, she again dropped into the plush mocha chair pushed perpendicular to the couch and stared into his handsome face.

“Why didn’t you tell me about your book,” Gibbs intoned after his first sip of coal black, undoctored Sumatra. He was angry, very angry; she could see it. Was it at her?

Brooklyn’s gaze dropped to her hands, but she forced it back up. “For all the reasons you imagine, Agent Gibbs. An electrocution is quite a coincidence, don’t you think?” Tears threatened, and she looked down again to get hold of raging emotions. “I prayed it was just Elias’ way of being ironic,” she told the floor, “or that maybe he just . . . didn’t know.”

Gibb’s voice seemed even harsher. “And did you know, Ms. Hill, that he didn’t die in the bathtub at all, but that, like in your book, he had been tortured and murdered before his final date with your tub?”

Her ears roared, and Brooklyn found herself standing, and then stumbling. Hard hands caught her before she fell, Gibbs’ hands, and she stared up into his face and tried to catch her breath.

“Elias was . . . he was tortured? Oh, my God. Oh my God.”

The look in Gibbs’ eyes was hard, and she didn’t know what it meant. Tears welled, and fell, and shame and anger turned her face down. She wanted to flee, go to her room, her bed, think this through - was it real? – was someone deliberately trying to . . . and she tried to pull free, but Gibbs’ hands held her there.

“Let me go,” she told him in a voice far flatter than she would have imagined she was capable.

“Look at me, Brooklyn,” Gibbs countered, and without thinking, she looked up. “Are you trying to seduce me?”

Shock. That’s what the electricity wiggling inside her belly must be. All of this was just too much, and now, now he thought . . . “Seduce you?” She couldn’t stop the laugh that bubbled up, spilled from her lips and mixed with Al Martino’s oddly discordant “Spanish Eyes” as it wafted through the room. The CD player was still on repeat. “I wouldn’t know how to start seducing you, Agent Gibbs! I’ve never seduced anyone in my entire life!”

Without warning, Gibbs released her, and she stumbled back. “And what do you do when you travel to Egypt, Ms. Hill? Or is that just a coincidence, too?”

What was he talking about? She ran a hand through her hair and had to concentrate to keep it from stopping to cover her mouth. And that made her mad. “Egypt? I’ve never been east of Bucharest or south of Athens, Agent Gibbs.” She shook her head. “I have never been to Egypt.”

He held her eyes for a moment, then turned and picked up one of the purple coasters. “And where did you get this, Ms. Hill? It looks a lot like the crafts street vendors in Egypt make, and you can’t buy anything like these here. Or are you going to tell me that Captain Haas sent these to you?”

Egypt? No, he was completely . . . “No, Agent Gibbs. Those came from Mexico, not Egypt, and not from Elias. My sister, Savannah, gave me those, and some other trinkets, last week when she returned from an extended Mexican vacation.”

“Show me.”

“Agent McGee.”

“Savannah is her sister’s name. Find her, McGee. Ms. Hill says her sister just returned from Mexico a week ago bearing what looks remarkably like homegrown Egyptian treasures. Ask her.”

“Will do, boss.”

There was no harm in doing what he asked, and she wanted him to see that she had nothing to hide, so she’d gone room to room and gathered the half-dozen things Savannah had brought. He snapped his phone shut as she turned the corner to the dining room – asking someone to check her story, no doubt – but she ignored that and dumped the collection on the oaken table. A cylindrical pottery something sporting a crescent moon and stars punched out. A dark brown wool blanket. Three beaded necklaces. The four purple coasters, made from some straw-like material, though they were probably not designed to be coasters.

With slow hands, Gibbs picked up each piece and examined it. Brooklyn watched him and wondered what he was thinking. His face was so hard to read, especially when he was looking someplace else.

And anyway, wondering was insanity. Yes, he was handsome, and probably a really good man, and no, he wasn’t an ex, but Rule Two was “Think it through first,” and it didn’t even take that much thinking to figure out what a bad idea it would be to get involved with an investigator who seemed to consider her a suspect in her ex-boyfriend’s murder.

Her breath caught again.

Murder. Elias had been murdered.

And then Gibbs looked up. Something had changed in his eyes, but she just didn’t know him well enough to know what it meant.

“These are all from Egypt, Ms. Hill,” he said, and his voice sounded milder than it probably should, since he was practically accusing her of lying.

Brooklyn shook her head. “No, Agent Gibbs. You’re wrong. Savannah practically lives in Mexico. I am sure she would know the difference between local crafts and things imported from Egypt, unless you think . . .” She stopped because she was rambling, and because she had no proof to show him of anything she had claimed. And speculation was worse than useless. He already had a call in. Let his investigator buddies do their job.

Two fingers trembled. Brooklyn licked her lips as she looked into Gibbs’ face, and tried to keep her hands at her sides. For a moment, she wondered if he had this effect on everyone, this ability to unsettle all your thoughts, then let go of the wondering because she knew he did.

For a handful of seconds, he held her eyes, then turned and walked to the door.

As his hand touched the knob, “Red Roses for a Blue Lady” whispered from the speaker closest to Brooklyn’s desk.

“Ask me to stay,” Gibbs said without turning.

What? What did he mean? “I . . . I don’t understand. I . . .”

He turned then, a slight smile transforming his face, and softening his words. “If you’re going to seduce me, Brooklyn, you don’t let me walk out the door.”

For maybe the first time in her whole life, she felt her eyes open wide. “I’m not . . . I mean . . .”

The smile grew as Gibbs walked across the carpet. He took one hand and led her away from the space behind the table that hid her. As she watched his face, he slid his free hand into the small of her back. “You waltz?”

“No, actually. I just like the music.” Gibbs led her into a simple dance, one she had seen but didn’t know the name of. “You don’t, uh, seem like the waltzing type.”

His breath warmed her cheek before he he pressed it to his. “I’ll teach you.” After a moment, he added,  quietly, “Rule Five: Never waste good.”

Beep. Gibbs voicem flat from being recorded. “Leave a message.”

Ziva’s voice. “Uh, Gibbs, Savannah White, the sister, says they had a falling out and she has not spoken to Ms. Hill in years. She said that it is Ms. Hill who travels, not her. That Ms. Hill just returned from Mexico seven days ago. She apparently drives down from Texas, then flies to other countries from there, maybe to avoid detection.” A pause. “Maybe she wants to be caught, Gibbs. Call me.”

Gibbs spoke nary a word on the drive back to D.C. Well, except when he ordered his coffee at that drive through. As they drove, Tony kept hearing something, and after the second hour he realized it was Gibbs, and not the car making that sound. A whistle, just under his breath.

He was happy, Tony guessed, though he couldn’t be sure. Had he ever seen Gibbs happy?

It had been 3 a.m. when Gibbs had come back in. Not that he’d been spying, but Ziva had called to check every hour, and not that he, he of all people, begrudged Gibbs the time or the, uh, attention, but what about Gibbs’ Rule Number Ten, “never get involved in a case”?

For the third hour, Tony debated asking him. But not seriously.

Tim lifted his head. Was that a whistle?

The sound just preceded Gibbs as he rounded the corner to the workspace. The question died on his lips as his eyes met Gibbs’ and saw the anger flare.

“She didn’t do it, McGee. I suggest that you find out who did!”

1 comment:

  1. Gibbs seemed disappointed that she DIDN'T try to seduce him. :-P