"Hello, I'm Serena Warren. It looks like we'll be working with each other for the foreseeable future." I straightened my back as I spoke to my new team. A beautiful woman of Middle-Eastern descent, a white man with blue-green eyes, brown hair, and a slight tan, and another white man with blue eyes and brown hair that was slightly rounder in the face. There seemed to be someone missing. "Um... Is Mr. Gibbs here?" I scanned the rest of the bullpen.
"Not yet." The woman spoke with an accent I haven't heard before. "But he should be here shortly."
"Oh, good. Where should I set up shop?" I asked, hoping to get settled before my boss walked in.
"Next to McGee." A voice spoke up as a white middle-aged gentleman with salt and pepper hair slid by me on his way to his desk. He addressed the others. "Grab your gear. A body's turned up." The others hopped to, preparing for a crime scene investigation. I started to grab my own things when Gibbs knocked on my desk to get my attention. "You're not going. You've got paper work to fill out." He rebuked.
"Right. I'll get right to it, then." I answered, quickly putting my things away in my new desk. I checked my inbox for files I needed to fill out and file properly and got to work.
"Hey, newbie. How's paperwork going?" The voice of the tanned man reminded me of a perpetual frat boy.
"It's going, going, gone. Anything you need me to do now? I'm loath to sit here and wait for heaven knows how long before another file needs worked on." I replied, just short of groaning. "I'll even go on a coffee run, if it means doing something." I watched them deflate a bit.
"It's no fun when they're okay with it." The tanned man grumbled.
"I just realized that I don't know your names." I admitted.
"Anthony Dinozzo, Ziva David, Timothy Mcgee." The round faced man pointed to each of them in correspondence to their names. "You obviously know who Gibbs is."
"Yes. I was told to report to him." I agreed. "It's nice to meet you all." I said with a smile. "Now what do you need me to do?"
"See what you can find on a Daniel Walters." Gibbs ordered as he blew into the area, aiming for his desk.
It's hard to believe I finally get to meet my father. And he has no idea. "Right away, sir." I acquiesced.
"Don't call me sir." He rebuffed.
"Of course. Right away, then." I replied as I scrolled through names and faces. I tried to be nonchalant about it, despite the slight irritation at his rebuff. I quickly pulled up a profile on the display. "Daniel Walters, 38, moved to Virginia from Florida two years, no living relatives, steady job in contracting. His record is squeaky clean, it seems. Very white suburb feel to him." I summed up. "Who is he?"
"His ID was found by the victim in Quantico." Mcgee informed me. "We just gotta find the connection between him and the victim. And him. The address on the ID isn't updated."
"While Serena looks into an address, Mcgee, any leads on the identity of our murdered sailor?" Gibbs set us to task. I kept an ear out as I continued to search for Walters' address.
"Petty Officer, Luke Harris. Age, 27 Virginia native. Enlistment would have ended in three months." Mcgee announced.
"Anything to link the two together, Mcgee?" My boss inquired.
"Nothing at first glance, but we'll dig a bit further to see what we can find." Mcgee answered.
"Alright, Mcgee take a look at his phone records, Dinozzo see if you can't figure out where Walters is now, Ziva talk to any relatives of the victim, Warren you got that address yet?" Gibbs set everyone to work before giving me attention.
"127 Glendale Road, Dale City Virginia was his last known address. Also the address of the company he works for. Walters&Jeeves Contracting." I was quick to regurgitate the information to my boss.
"Good job, Warren." Gibbs acknowledged as he strode out again but paused long enough to toss me the keys. "Get the car. I'll meet you out front."
"Right away." I hurried to fulfill his order.
"You're very eager to accompany our fearless leader, newbie. Why is that?" Dinozzo leaned toward me over my desk.
"My first time helping solve a case, and you wonder why I'm eager? Really? Plus, Gibbs doesn't seem to be the patient type." I rolled my eyes as I hurried to the elevator.
"Daniel Walters?" I called as I knocked on the upstairs apartment door. The door swung open with a pale, half dressed woman at the door with mussed bottle blond hair and smeared makeup. I blinked in surprise before speaking up again. "Is Walters home?"
"Who the fuck are you?" She eyed me up and down with a sneer. I felt my eye twitch at her attitude.
"NCIS. Special Agent Serena Warren, and this is Special Agent Gibbs." I stepped aside to allow her a view of my boss as we showed our badges. "Is Walters available, ma'am?"
"NCIS?" She ignored my question with a snotty attitude.
"Naval criminal investigative services." Gibbs answered. "Is Walters home or not?"
"I've never heard of NCIS." She evaded.
"Not surprising." I commented. "Now are you going to answer our question or are we going to have to bring yo in for obstruction during an investigation?" I could feel my irritation leaking into my voice. "I'd personally not have to deal with the extra paperwork, but if it becomes necessary..."
"Yeah, he's in." She scowled at me. "Are we done here?" She tried to shut the door. Gibbs stopped it with his foot.
"We're gonna have to talk to him." He corrected her. "Go get him." She huffed before stomping out of sight.
"Danny! You've got visitors." She called loudly. There was rustling of clothes and harsh whispers before Daniel shuffled into the door frame.
"Can I help you?" He inquired.
"We certainly hope so. Can you tell us why your ID was found in Quantico?" I asked.
"Quantico? I've never been there. But my wallet got lost a couple days ago. I put a stop to my cards just in case, but I thought I just set it down and can't remember where. Like at home or downstairs at work or something. Guess I need to file for a new ID and cards, huh?" He scratched the back of his head in embarrassment.
My eyes caught movement behind him to see the blond woman scowling at us and filed it away in my mind.
"Boss, Walters was telling the truth. He stopped his account two days ago. And according to his work log, he's been in Richmond for the past few days for a convention. Wouldn't have had time to make it back to kill our Petty Officer." Mcgee announced his findings. "Still doesn't explain his ID at the crime scene."
"Looks like a frame up." I grumbled as I tapped a pen on the desk.
"What is bothering you?" Ziva asked.
"The woman that answered the door was rude is all. Kinda reminds me of those crazy possessive chicks from college."
"If he was being framed, who did the framing? Did the killer just happen to find his ID and thought it'd be a great cover for the crime?" Ziva asked aloud.
"Any leads on who would want our petty officer dead?" Gibbs asked his own question.
"Not so far, boss. CO said he was very well liked in the ranks. Couldn't think of anybody who'd hold a grudge. Family said the same. All the exes still think he was a decent guy." Dinozzo reported.
"What about his neighbors?" I asked. "Maybe they saw a glimpse of his personal life that the others didn't see?"
"Good idea, newbie. There's no way this guy was squeaky clean." Dinozzo applauded.
"Ziva. You and Warren go take a look at his residence and talk to the neighbors. See if they know anything." Gibbs gave us our assignments.
"Gotcha." I said as I stood up to follow after the Isrealite.
"Out of curiosity, why did you decide on NCIS?" Ziva asked as she drove. I tried to keep my mind off of her hectic driving as I thought of an answer.
"I always wanted to be a part of law enforcement. Be a credit to the occupation." I yelped as we swerved around a minivan.
"Then why not join metro?" She pressed.
"I wanted to feel close to my father. He was a marine." I admitted. "So my mother said, anyway." She's gonna kill me! I'm gonna die in a car accident because of her! I swear to God!
"So, you hoped to meet him?" She inquired.
"No, I thought being in NCIS would show me what a marine is like. I just wanted to get a glimpse of what my father might be like. I never intended to meet him." I stared out at the passing scenery as I answered.
"Does he know about you?" She continued her questioning.
"No. And he won't, if I can help it. Shouldn't you be saving the interrogation for the neighbors?" I tried to sidetrack her.
"It's not like I'll run out of motivation to interrogate. Why don't you want him to know?" She continued doggedly.
"It was my mother's dying wish that if I meet him, to tell him nothing about it. To let him believe there is no connection between us." I sighed. "Please, Ziva. Let it be."
"I...I am sorry." She murmured.
"Don't be." I gave her a smile. "Can we grab a frozen coffee after this? I need caffeine more than anything right now." She chuckled in answer.
"Got something for me Abbs?" Gibbs asked his eccentric forensic scientist.
"You bet I do! So, those skid mark patterns you got on the pavement belong to a specific brand of tire that is used by a specific clientelle. Like, really specific. But it gets murky after that because I can't pin the car that has these tires." Abby started up.
"Abby." Gibbs tried to get her back on track.
"Right. Your tires belong to a race car." Abby divulged.
"Like NASCAR?" He frowned.
"No. Street racing." Abby grinned. " A street racer's car is usually really under the radar. Like, racers, usually do their own mods or get a trustworthy mechanic to do it for them. What we need is an insider on the racing scene that knows their way in and out of cars." She grinned. "Somebody is gonna have to get close enough to the racers to strike a deal."
"Good job, Abbs." He handed the goth her Caf-pow and gave her a kiss to the top of her head before turning to leave.
"So, the neighbors didn't know anything either and we need somebody to get up close to some racers and strike a deal. Who would they let that close?" Mcgee asked. "And what kind of deal would they want?"
"Probably a scrub of their record." Dinozzo guessed.
"Their traffic tickets pardoned." Ziva hypothesized.
"A guarantee that street racing will be ignored by the police within certain parameters. Like that they safely blockade their racing routes, that it only be one night a week; preferably a weekend night, and that it be in the commercial district only, to avoid hitting kids playing past curfew or something. And a guarantee to not be arrested for whatever crime we could peg them for during their help, barring the case we're investigating." I suggested. Gibbs raised an eyebrow.
"That's pretty detailed." Mcgee noted.
"Anyone smart enough to mod cars like that must be pretty smart. There's a high chance that they'll worry about their safety and freedom. Plus, most racers just don't want to get their cars impounded for racing. Do you know how much their mods cost? Just a brief scroll and search on google had my wallet crying." I chuckled.
"Fine. We'll get the deal set up, you make the deal." Gibbs addressed me.
"Me?" I balked. "But-"
"Your idea. You pitch the sale." Gibbs quirked an eyebrow. I gulped.
"Alright. I guess I just gotta find the racers." I relented. Dinozzo grinned.
"Good for you, newbie, the races are tonight." He gave a smirk at my discomfort. Fuuuuuuccckkk....
"Okay, Warren. Metro has agreed to the deal. It's time to sell it." Gibbs spoke into his mic, in which I heard in my ear piece.
"Got it boss." I muttered. My small frame felt like it was shrinking in the face of this challenge. Put on the spot on my first day on this team. What are the chances? I eyed the crowd for someone who would be auto savvy enough for the job.
I caught sight of a mere boy eyeing each car with either appreciation or a look of indifference. He was the one to make the offer to. I quickly scrawled a note on a scrap of paper from my purse. I've got a deal, if you're willing to cooperate with my team. Yes, I'm a fed. But I'm not interested on busting this race up. Come around the corner if you're interested. I quickly folded it and moved to tap on the closest guy that didn't look like he'd put me through a wall.
"Excuse me." I spoke up, feigning shy. The man turned to me.
"Hey there, chica. What can I do for you?" He asked in a humoring manner. I pointed to the lanky man who might have just become an official adult recently.
"C-could you tell me who he is?" I stuttered slightly.
"Aw, chica. That's Jesse. He's with Torettos team. I can introduce you if you want." He offered. I felt my face get red despite this only being an act.
"N-no, no!" I waved my hands in front of myself in further protest. "Um... If you could give this to him, I'd appreciate it." I ducked down and refused to meet his eye. I heard his chuckle.
"Sure, girly. I'll go do that now." He took the paper from me and made his way to the lanky blond and I quickly back-tracked to the corner I had started at.
"Hey, Jesse. Looks like you got an admirer." Trent called out to the youngest member of team Toretto and moved closer to him to hand him the scrap of folded paper. The blond grinned as Trent continued. "I think she gave you her number."
Jesse opened the paper and read the neat scrawl and felt his face freeze for a moment as Trent was searching out the little auburn brunette that had given him the note to pass along. "Who gave this to you?" He recovered enough to act normally.
Trent pointed the petite, yet curvy woman at the corner of the building out for him. "There she is. You might get lucky tonight, man." He patted Jesse on the back before walking off. Jesse made eye contact with her, for her to twitch her head back in a gesture to come. He gestured for her to wait while he went to find his team. She gave a minute nod before going around the corner, probably to wait on him.
He quickly made his way to the leader of the team. "Dom. Dom, we got a situation." He managed to say lowly enough for only the team to hear.
"What is it, Jess?" Dom asked in a lazy manner, still enjoying the atmosphere of the racing meet. Jesse passed him the note.
"Some chick had this sent to me just now." The blond explained as Dom read the note, his lazy grin dissolving into a tense frown. He passed the note to the others to read. The others had varying degrees of hostility written on their faces.
"Where is she?" He inquired. Jesse pointed to the building he'd last seen her by.
"She turned the corner over there to wait for me, I guess." Jesse answered.
"Well then. Let's go see what this cop wants."Dom decided aloud.
I leaned against the brick wall and stared up at the sky, waiting for this 'Jesse' to meet me.
"Hey, lady." A much deeper voice than I had expected had me stiffening in alarm before turning my head to acknowledge the man. There was a group standing right at the corner, including Jesse. "What do you want?" The muscle-y man with caramel colored skin and a shaved head spoke in his deep voice.
"Cooperation. I've got a murdered sailor on my hands with the only lead being street race grade tires. In exchange, I can guarantee you all that no cop will hassle you over street races again. No more radio screening. So long as the races happen only one night out of a each week. And restrict your racing to the business side of town and safe roadblocks." I folded my arms in front of myself. "I need someone who is good enough with cars who could spot a certain brand and patterned tire on a car without getting too close and scaring off the suspect."
"And you expect us to trust you that he isn't gonna get locked up?" A rough looking man with a scraggly beard grunted at me.
"I understand your reluctance to believe anything I say. But you've got nothing to lose by saying no, and quite a bit to gain by saying yes. The other part of the bargain is that anything that could be seen as illegal that he might be doing- any of you might be doing or have done recently that we find is ignored completely. We won't even look into it." I shrugged. "Unless it's murder. Our case specifically. I don't see that being a problem, though."
"So let me get this straight. Jesse helps you catch your killer and racing on a Saturday night in the business district is safe from cop interference? Jesse doesn't get cuffed for anything ya'll might think he did unless it's killing your dead guy?" A sassy seeming Latina summed.
"He's just gotta help us identify who uses those tires around here, and every race night is safe from raids. And he's safe in our custody for the day."
"Custody? Thought you said he wasn't in trouble." Another woman questioned. She looked like the shaved man a bit. They were probably relatives.
"Custody in the sense that we maintain his safety while in our building." I explained.
"Sounds like a good deal... I don't think I got your name." The shaved man drawled, his arms crossed as he looked down at me with a quirked eyebrow and a smirk.
"How rude of me." I reached for my badge slowly to show them. "I am Special Agent Serena Warren of NCIS. The naval criminal investigative service."
"Dominic Toretto. Everybody calls me Dom." The shaved man introduced. "You know this is Jesse, and this is my sister Mia." He pointed out the two youngest of his big family. "That's Letty and Leon." He pointed to the sassy Latina and the man who hadn't spoken yet. "And this is Vince." He gestured to his scruffy friend that had a gruff demeanor.
"Nice to meet you." I gave a polite smile. "If you will help, I'd be very appreciative if you were ready by 7:30 am. My boss is going to want you there as soon as possible." I addressed Jesse. "Somebody will be picking you up around then. Judging by my position as the newest member on my team, it'll probably be me."
Vince snorted. "They sent a newbie to make this deal?"
"My idea, my job to implement it." I shrugged. This caused chuckles throughout the group.
"He'll be ready." Dom agreed. He quickly scrawled something onto the paper I had gotten to Jesse earlier. "Here's the address." I reached for the paper, and he grabbed my hand in his rough and warm fingers. I barely held back a gasp. "I'm trusting you." He said, looking me deeply in the eyes. I gave a smile.
"For what my word is worth to any of you, I give it that I'll take bullets for him if necessary. Though, I sincerely doubt it'll come to that." I promised, earning a squeeze of the hands.
"I hope not." Dom murmured softly.
"If you'll excuse me, I've got a long day ahead of me tomorrow." I gently slid my hand out of his hold and turned to leave.
"Hold on." I paused at Jesse's voice and tilted my head in question. "What would you have done if we'd said no?"
"I'd have tried to offer my deal to someone else. If that didn't work, I'd have done it myself, though I don't have the keen eye for cars that some do." I gave a little sigh. "I'll see you tomorrow, then. I need some sleep."
I made it to the car with Ziva waiting in the driver's seat.
"You made the deal?" She asked.
"I guess I'll be picking him up tomorrow morning. I got the address" I showed her the paper absently.
"Looks like you got more than the address." She observed. I looked down at the paper with the address, only to notice more was written there.
Dinner maybe, after your case? And a phone number just under the words. I gaped in shock.
Did I just get asked out by a guy who hates authority?