“How do you even use this thing?” The young man gave a machine a poke.
“Don’t touch that!” Abby snapped at him worriedly. She turned towards the man standing near her. “Gibbs! Tell them I don’t need help. Tell them there’s no room. Tell them… there was a stampede. I don’t care what you tell them; just get him out of here!” She looked over her shoulder at the interloper. “And why does he keep poking things with that stick?”
The man smirked at her. “I think you’ll like this a whole lot more than you think, Abbs.” He leant over and kissed her on the cheek.
“But, Gibbs!” Abby whined as the older man turned and walked away.
She scowled and turned towards the young man peering at her computer screens.
“Don’t touch that!”
“Well, I can say with some certainty that this is not Mr. Weasley.” Doctor Donald Mallard looked at Gibbs over the tops of his spectacles. “Red hair, he may have, but it wasn’t natural.” He wandered over to a table full of samples and selected a petri dish. He placed it under a microscope and focused. “See, there.”
Gibbs bent over to look at the sample better. “The root’s black.”
“Exactly!” Dr. Mallard nodded firmly. “Freshly lightened. Not even the right ethnicity.”
Gibbs looked at him. “Then who is this, Ducky?”
“I do have what you might call hunch.” The doctor made a gesture with his pen. “Come look at this.”
They walked over to the illuminated panel that was displaying a series of x-rays and photographs.
“What am I looking at, Duck?” Gibbs asked.
“Here.” Ducky pointed at a picture. “Does this look familiar to you?”
“He was frozen.” Gibbs said flatly.
“Not all of him,” Dr. Mallard declared. “Just his brain stem.”
“I don’t know yet,” Dr. Mallard said as he pursed his lips at the charts. “But I think he may be on the list of the missing.”
“How long until you know?”
“I have Abby working on some things, but it looks like this might be Jae-Hwo Chang.” Dr. Mallard measured Gibbs’ expression.
“He’s been missing since 1980. Would he be in this good of shape? I thought you said he was a young guy?”
“With the exception of his missing face and the red hair, I’d say he was in very good shape indeed.” Dr. Mallard admitted. “Unusually so. I’m sure Abby will have more to show you soon.”
“I don’t like waiting, Duck,” Gibbs called out as he turned to leave the room.
“It’s out of my hands now, Jethro,” Dr. Mallard called after him. “We just have to wait for the machines to give us what we need to work with!”
“Talk to me,” Gibbs said as he swept into his cubicle area.
“Neighbors say they’ve seen movement at night, but haven’t seen who it is,” Tony DiNozzo piped up.
“Phone records are clean, boss,” Timothy McGee said, furrowing his eyes at the computer screen in front of him. “No one’s so much as picked up the receiver.”
“Well, they’ve got to be communicating somehow,” Ziva David insisted.
“Well, it’s not with the land line and we aren’t getting any hits with the nearby towers.” McGee frowned.
“What about surveillance?” Gibbs asked him. “Anything unusual?”
“Like what?” Tony asked with a confused look on his face.
“Like owls.” A dark-haired man with glasses swept around the corner, scowling.
“Owls.” Ziva echoed. “They’re communicating by owl.”
“This investigation is officially under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Magic.” He adjusted the pack on his shoulder before handing a scroll to Gibbs.
“I thought all that was classified, Potter,” Gibbs said without missing a beat as his team looked at each other.
“Not anymore,” Potter said grimly. “We have absolute conformation we’re dealing with the Dark Arts.”
“I kind of got that from the autopsy,” Gibbs said sarcastically as his eyes skimmed the document he’d unfurled.
“We can modify your team’s memories before we—“
“Whoa!” DiNozzo held his hands up. “No one’s modifying my memory with some freaky-deaky government hoo-hah!”
“Hoo-ha?” Ziva looked at him with a confused expression.
“It’s a general term for stuff,” McGee explained.
“Then why not just say stuff?” Ziva asked.
“Because hoo-ha’s more appropriate when someone’s talking about playing with your brain!” Tony snapped at her.
“Well, you needn’t worry, Tony,” Ziva said silkily. “You haven’t much to play with.”
“I’ve got plenty to play with!” Tony protested loudly.
“Excuse me, Agent DiNozzo?”
Tony leapt up from his chair to face the man behind him. “Brains, Director. She was implying I had no brains.”
“Hmm,” said the Director, thoughtfully. He turned towards Potter and Gibbs. “I’m assuming Potter’s briefed you?”
“Doing it right now, sir.” Potter confirmed.
“Well, do it on the way to MTAC. The Minister will be on in three minutes.”
“Let’s go,” Gibbs said, gesturing for Potter to go first.
The men marched off, leaving the team to gape at each other.
“They’re communicating by owl,” Ziva said, still disbelieving.
“Ministry of Magic?” McGee said, looking alarmed.