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What You Didn't Tell

Chapter Text

“You are carrying a book,” Ziva announced as Tony rounded the divider into their section of the bullpen.

“Yes, Ziva,” Tony replied with a grin, “I most certainly am.”

“What is it?”  Ziva asked.

“A good book loaned to me by a good friend,” Tony replied as he put his coat over the back of his chair and sat down.  “I was pleasantly surprised even, I’m not usually a fan of mysteries, but Sandy is.”

“Another of your girlfriends?”  McGee asked.

“Sandy?  He is most certainly not a girl,” Tony retorted, “He’s a frat brother.”

“What kind of mystery?”  Ziva asked.

“A murder mystery,” Tony said.  He tucked the book into his desk for safe keeping and booted up his computer.  “The author’s very unknown, this is his first book, but he’s getting some attention now.”

“What is it called?”  McGee asked, sounding far too casual.

Tony turned, ready to poke his co-worker a bit.

“Dead sailor at Meridian Hill, grab your gear,” Gibbs announced.

Tony grabbed his bag and slid it over his shoulder and glanced at McGee, “A Killer Best Friend, by Quinten Vosley.  You should read it, it’s really good.”

He paused as an odd expression crossed McGee’s face, a mix of relief and disappointment.

“DiNozzo, McGee!” Gibbs called.

“On your six boss,” Tony replied, hurrying for the elevator with McGee steps behind him.

The drive to Meridian Hill Park was terrifying but thankfully short, and Tony scrambled out of the car to make contact with the city cops who had cordoned the area and were keeping the bystanders at bay.  As he got closer, he recognized one of the cops as a detective he’d ran into on other occasions and altered his path to speak with the man.

“Agent DiNozzo,” Henry Dimes said easily, shaking Tony’s hand.

“Detective Dimes,” Tony replied, “what do we have?”

“Naval Lieutenant attacked on his morning run and killed,” Dimes said, gesturing Tony further away from the crowd.  “There’s a witness, an unbonded Guide.  We had to call in the Center to get him some help, so he’s with them.”

Tony whistled softly, “Right, I’ll need that information of course.  How bad was it?”

“Not as bad as you might expect,” Dimes said, “Kid broadcast enough to get attention but locked it down before it got bad.  Detectives Aldives and Cortain were in the area and Cortain picked up the distress and back tracked it here.”  Dimes indicated two women standing on the far side of the crime scene, where there were no bystanders.  Tony didn’t have to look hard to pick up their Sentinel and Guide tags, it was clear in the way they stood who and what they were.

“Right,” Tony said.  “Thanks Joe.”

“No problem,” Dimes said, “see you around.”

Tony headed over to where Gibbs was talking to Ducky over the body.

“What do you have?”  Gibbs asked.

“Witness,” Tony said, keeping his voice soft and his face away from the crowd.  “Unbonded guide saw it.  They had to get the Center to send people to help him.  Detectives Aldives and Cortain were first on the scene after it happened, Cortain picked up the guide’s distress and back tracked it.”

Gibbs glared at him a for a moment, his opinion of people taking his witnesses clear, then he jabbed Tony in the chest, “Talk to the detectives, then get down to the Center and get a statement from that guide.”

“On it,” Tony said quickly and headed for the Detectives.  He flipped his notebook to a clean sheet and summoned up his most charming smile, “Detective Aldives and Detective Cortain, I’m Very Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo, NCIS.  I’m here to get your statement.”

“We were following up on some leads for a series of robberies in the area when I sensed it,” Cortain said, “it was a panic-distress broadcast of a guide, but it wasn’t at a level that Jenny could sense at first, but by the time we got here a lot more people were picking it up.  We found the guide standing just inside the woods, staring at the body and highly distressed, although his actual broadcasting was dying off quickly.  He wasn’t coherent, whatever set him off, he needed to be at the Center, so Jenny called it in while I tried to help him.”

“Do you have any information on the Guide?”  Tony asked.

“No,” Jenny Aldives said, “he wouldn’t say anything.”

“Did you see anything else, anyone acting strange or leaving the area in a hurry?”

“No,” Jenny replied, “and I looked.  That level of distress in a Guide, I wasn’t going to take chances.”

Tony nodded, a Sentinel with their Guide in danger was a fearsome thing to behold.

“Is there anything either of you noticed or saw at any point?”  Tony pushed, “No matter how insignificant you think it is.” 

Tony wasn’t a guide, to be able to ease them into remembering the little things, but he was good at relaxing people and getting them to remember things they didn’t expect.  But as good as he was, there was a limit to what he could get and so he left the pair with his number and returned as the others were packing away the tools.

“That had better be good,” Gibbs said.

“The killer was a Sensitive,” Tony replied quietly, “not a Guide, but there’s a strong chance they were on somebody’s radar.  Cortain thought they were the sort that could come online with the right kind of push.”

There it was, that moment of frustration that this could get buried with the GSC.

“It’s not a Guide, Gibbs.  Cortain said the Center might want access to seal the killer’s mind, but other than that, they don’t really have jurisdiction except for the unbonded Guide who saw it happen.”  Tony met his boss’s eyes for a moment, then glanced away, “I can’t go to the Center to get the Guide’s statement.  I’m unbonded.”

“I’ll take care of it,” Gibbs said.

Tony nodded, trying not to wince at the number of angry calls about baby guides he’d have to field if Gibbs decided to go in person.  He was still getting nasty emails from the last time they’d run into a GSC investigation.

Chapter Text

Quin was in trouble.  He’d nearly lost control in the middle of a public park, something he hadn’t done in years, but in his defense, seeing someone do that to another human being was horrible.

Now he was at the local Guide Support Center, ostensibly to be checked over for any signs of psychic shock.

Of course, that would require him to lower his shields and let someone into his mindscape and there was more of a chance of his sentinel walking in the door than that happening.

“Mister Vosley, I understand that what you saw was very traumatizing,” the Guide said.

Quin eyed the young woman for a moment, “Not as much as you’d think,” he told her.  “I’m prepared to leave now.”

“But sir,” the woman began.

“Am I being detained?”  Quin demanded.

“N-no but,” the woman said.

Quin stood up, crossing his arms and letting a tiny bit of his frustration and determination slip past his shields, “Then I’m prepared to leave now.  I didn’t agree to come here in the first place.”  He stepped around the woman, opened the door to the hall, and walked away.  He could hear/feel behind him an oncoming sentinel, but the person stopped at the door to the exam room and from the impression that Quin got, they were comforting the nurse in the way that a bonded sentinel would.

Quin pulled out his phone and smiled at the notification from Uber that his ride had arrived.  He glanced around, not wanting to go by the front desk and risk being stopped by the rather formidable receptionist.  Spotting a door out that was not marked as alarmed, he turned down a side hallway and let himself out.  He was on the end of the building, which allowed him to come around to the front to find a black Honda CR-V waiting by the entrance.

He checked the name of the Uber driver, Brian Marks, and jogged over to tap on the window.

“Brian Marks?”

“Paul Koontz?”  The driver said.

“Yup,” Quin said, “thanks for coming for me.”

“No problem sir,” Marks replied as Quin slid into the back seat.  “I’ll have you back home before you know it.”

The drive was nice, Marks played music from an Acapella group that Quin had heard a time or two and enjoyed, but the driver clearly wasn’t the sort to gossip about anything.  Quin was so grateful he pulled his only twenty out of his wallet and handed it over.

“Thanks,” Marks said, clearly surprised.

“I’ve had a difficult morning,” Quin told him, “and I’m about to willingly walk into a house with a half dozen children between the ages of five and eighteen and explain my morning to the closest thing I have to a father.  This is the most peaceful Uber ride I’ve had in years.  You deserve that.”

“Well, I hope your day gets better,” Marks said.

“I hope you have a reasonably pleasant day as well,” Quin said as he got out, “thanks for the lift.”  He walked up the stairs to the house and let himself in with a soft sigh.

Foxxe had Misha pinned down in the living room and from the screaming laughter was tickling him while Glider hung on her back like the monkey she secretly was.  Quin considered stepping in for a moment but was instead drawn to the kitchen where Plo was talking quietly with Wolffe as they finished the dishes.

The older Guide was as he always was, tall, lean, with his ridiculously orange hair pulled into a ponytail that displayed the white streaks over his temples with dignity.  The dark glasses he wore to protect his eyes glinted in the overhead lights as he passed a skillet to Wolffe and turned to look at Quinn.

“What happened?”  Plo asked in his deep, mellow voice that relaxed everyone.

Quin hesitated a moment while Plo dried his hands and then stepped into his arms for a hug.  “Shit went down at the park,” he said softly.  “Saw a kid get murdered, nearly lost control.”

“Should you not be with the police?”  Plo asked even as he gave him a protective hug.  Quin heard Wolffe walking away but didn’t look up to follow him.

“They sent me to the Center because they picked up my distress,” Quin said, “I left before anyone got there.”

Plo understood of course, he knew what Quin would have felt at the Center, what would have been on his mind seeing that death.

“I used the Uber account,” Quin added as he stepped back from the hug, “the cops will be able to find me.”

“You will speak to them when you are ready,” Plo said, squeezing Quin’s upper arms, “and not a moment before.”

The sound of bare feet on hardwood heralded the arrival of Quin’s favorite person in the household, the one who made being in a house with a dozen screaming children worthwhile.  Quin smiled as he was pulled into a second hug, dipping his head to rest against the strawberry scented green braids of his little sister Aayla.

“What did you do now?”  Aayla asked.

“Found some trouble,” Quin replied, letting his shields weaken enough to bask in the feel of his favorite people.  He could hear Bly and Wolffe doing their subvocal Sentinel thing but couldn’t quite bring himself to bother figuring out what they were saying.

“Let’s go meditate,” Aayla said.

“Kara and Jaran will take the children out to the pool,” Plo added.

Quin smiled and let himself be pulled downstairs to the small meditation room the family maintained.  With the door shut, it was easy to loose track of the household.  It was the closet they came to silence in a house with six kids, nine adults, and Chip who was both.

The doorbell rang, cutting through Quin’s meditative thoughts.  He opened his eyes and glanced up at the TV that was now playing the view from their video doorbell.  A dark skinned, hard eyed woman and a nervous looking man were standing on the doorstep.  Aayla reached over and flipped the channel, shifting the view to one of the better positioned cameras that would let them see and hear what was going on.

“Can I help you?”  Jaran asked in that bright and earnest tone that made him an invaluable employee at the call center.

“We’re looking for a Paul Koontz,” the woman began.

“Wrong address,” Jaran said and shut the door firmly.

Quin grinned, wondering what the pair would do now.  They exchanged glances and the woman rang the door bell again.

“We’re not buying,” Kara snapped as she opened the door.

“NCIS,” the man tried.

“Like said, not interested,” Kara replied and slammed the door.

Aayla snorted as Quinn grinned at her.

The woman rang the bell again.

“What do you want?”  Chip demanded, in full angry teen mode.

“Federal agents,” the man said.

“We’re looking for a Paul Koontz,” the woman began.

“Oh my God,” Chip said as he flicked his hand, “There’s nobody here by that name.  Maybe you should go back to your Agency and check the data again.  Maybe come back with a warrant.”  He slammed the door again.

Moments later, the pair backed up and walked away.

Quin shook his head slightly, “They’ll be back.”

“Definitely,” Aayla agreed.

Chapter Text

Gibbs watched from the balcony above the bullpen as Ziva and McGee came back, frowning.  He’d sent them to visit the address their witness had gone to after leaving the Center, but they’d returned alone.  DiNozzo was getting off the phone with one of his contacts, clearly puzzled by the pair’s arrival as well.

“What happened?”  Tony asked.  “Did you forget someone?”

“The address was a residential house,” McGee said, “we tried multiple times to speak to someone, but they kept shutting the door in our face.”  He frowned again, “Can Guides, well, can they make people do things?”

“Influence someone?”  Tony said, his boyish behavior set aside for a moment as the underlying Sentinel slipped through.  Gibbs didn’t always mind Tony’s boyish behavior in the bullpen, or his skillful deflections when the crime scenes were at their worst, because of these moments, when Tony put that aside and let his core self, his Sentinel self, come through.  “Yes, they can.  They’re only supposed to do it under certain circumstances though, why?”

At the looks that Ziva and McGee exchanged, Gibbs left his position and headed down, intending to get the intel before he decided his next step.  They had more than just an odd witness to bring in, they had a victim in autopsy and a killer to find.

“He told us to go back to the Agency and recheck our data, and we did,” Ziva said as she sat down.  “We did not start to question until we were here.”

“The witness did that?”  Gibbs asked as he walked into their part of the bullpen.

“No, it was a teen,” McGee said with that deer in headlights look he still got when Gibbs managed to startle him, “looked like he was some kind of Pacific Islander.  We saw three people, none of them the witness.  First was an African American, then another Pacific Islander, this time a woman, and then the teen.”

Gibbs considered them for a moment, scowling, before the fax beeped and Tony leaped to his feet, “Aha,” he said, “got info on the victim, boss.  Lieutenant Altman is a Hawaiian native, enlisted at seventeen and just graduated from the Academy this year.  Good kid from a poor family, joined up to help his parents after they had to take in four cousins after their mom was sent to prison.  No priors, no disciplinary issues.”

Gibbs considered Tony for a moment debating where Tony would serve the greatest purpose today, “Take Ziva and go talk to his CO, McGee, track Altman’s financials.”

“Where are you going?”  Tony asked.

“To find our witness,” Gibbs replied as he grabbed his coat.

The house that the uber driver had taken their witness wasn’t that far from Gibb’s own place, although it was larger.  He could hear kids screaming and laughing, as well as a woman’s voice, words indistinguishable, but clearly calling them to order.

Gibbs rang the doorbell and waited.

A teenager with dark skin opened the door, looking pissed off.  “What?”

Gibbs held up his badge, “I’m Agent Jethro Gibbs with NCIS, a witness to a murder I’m investigated was brought here by Uber this morning.”

The kid stared at him for a long moment before the door was yanked open, revealing an older man of the same ethnicity, who looked so much like the kid that they had to be related.

“Agent Gibbs from NCIS,” the man said, giving him a narrow eyed once over, “Do you have a name for your witness?”

“The Center gave the name Quinten Vosley and the Uber was paid by the account of Paul Koontz,” Gibbs said after a moment.

“Wolffe,” called a man Gibbs couldn’t see, “Let him in.”

The teen backed out of the way as the man, clearly Wolffe, opened the door all the way and jerked his head inside.  Gibbs gave him a long look, but stepped inside, noting the teen was now in the kitchen, digging in the fridge.

“Don’t spoil your dinner Chip.”

“I won’t,” the teen grumbled, coming out with something in his hand, “Just a snack, Uncle Paul.”

Gibbs turned to find an older gentleman in the living room, he wore slacks and a polo shirt, and a pair of dark glasses.

“Paul Koontz?”  Gibbs asked.

“Sometimes, Agent Gibbs,” the man said with a smile.  “In the legal sense.  The man who let you in is my Sentinel, Wolffe, but I believe you are here about Quin.”

“If he’s the Guide who witnessed a murder this morning,” Gibbs began.

“He is,” Koontz said gently, “you’ll have to forgive him, however.  Quin has some ample reasons to distrust certain authority figures.  Would it be possible for someone to accompany Quin to give his statement?”

“A lawyer?”  Gibbs asked.

“No, although Aayla is interested in forensics.  She and her sentinel are rather protective of Quin, and he needs that right now.”  Koontz replied.

Gibbs weighed his options, then nodded once, abruptly, “Alright.”

“Chip stop trying to steal the brownies and go get Quin,” Koontz called.

“But,” Chip replied.

“Now, Chip.”

“Yes sir.”

Gibbs wondered why Koontz wore the sunglasses if he could see.

“Photosensitivity,” Koontz said.

“I’m sorry?”  Gibbs asked.

“My eyes, they’re sensitive to light,” Koontz said.

“Right,” Gibbs said, “there is another reason I’m here.  Two of my agents were here earlier to find Vosley but ended up back in the bullpen with no understanding of why they left.”

Koontz sighed, “That would have been Chip’s doing, no doubt.  His brothers are all Sentinels, but Chips surprised all of us by developing Guide gifts recently.  His control isn’t a hundred percent yet, and influencing, as you call it, is the one he struggles with most.  I hope there was no lasting damage?”

“Is he registered?”  Gibbs asked.

“Not locally,” Koontz said, “we moved here recently.  Ah, Quin, this is Agent Gibbs from NCIS.”

The newcomer was an African American man with dreads and a facial tattoo that covered up a scar that ran in a straight line under his eyes and over his nose.  He was flanked by a lighter skinned woman with green hair and a man who looked so much like Wolffe that Gibbs almost checked for the glowering young man who had been standing off to his right.  The only difference between them was that Wolffe’s t-shirt was a dark grey and this one wore a mustard yellow polo.

“Agent Gibbs,” Vosley said easily.

“Quinten Vosley,” Gibbs said.

“I’m ready to give my statement,” Vosley said as the girl put her hand on his shoulder in a gesture of support.  He paused, “Would we need to come on our own?”

Gibbs gave them a long, silent look, “I’ll bring you, and arrange a ride home,” he said finally.

“Aayla and Bly too?”  Vosley asked.

“Yes,” Gibbs said.

“Then let’s go,” Vosley said, “no sense waiting any longer.”

Gibbs almost snapped back at him, after all, if the kid had stayed at the Center, there wouldn’t have been all this running around, but Aayla’s eyes narrowed, and Koontz straightened up, as if they had caught the thought before he could say it.  Whatever was going on here, it was made utterly clear that they wouldn’t take kindly to him speaking harshly to Vosley.  He hoped DiNozzo was back, his SFA was better at speaking to witnesses than he tended to be.

Chapter Text

Aayla found NCIS to be less exciting than she’d thought.  Although she had noticed the alarming orange color of the bullpen on their way up to a conference room, that was about the most exciting thing she’d seen.

“We’ll ask,” Bly told her quietly as they settled in the conference room.

“Ask what?”  Quin asked, glancing between them.

Aayla reached over and twisted her hand through Quin’s to comfort him, “Just, wondering if we could get a tour or something.  See forensics or something, that would be cool.”

Quin gave her the tight lipped smile that he used when he was trying to smile but his anxiety was through the roof.

“Incoming,” Bly announced, standing up.  Aayla stood as well but put her hand on Quin to keep him seated between them.  He relaxed at her touch, so Aayla stayed where she was, but kept herself balanced and ready to move if Bly needed her.

The door opened carefully, and a dark haired man eased into the room.

Quin stopped breathing.

The man froze, staring at the three of them.

“Oh shit,” Bly muttered.

Aayla swallowed as she realized what this was, this was the meeting of a Sentinel with His Guide.  She gave Quin’s shoulder a quick, short shake, “Breath Quin.”

Quin inhaled obediently, “Oh,” he whispered on the exhale.

“Agent,” Aayla said, gratified when he gave her a quick look, “My Sentinel is stepping away from your Guide.  Just stay calm.”

Bly obediently took a step away from the table, and Quin, then a second and third.  Once that was done, he glanced at Aayla and she nodded.  He made his way to the half-open door and stepped out with barely a glance from the Agent.

Aayla knew he would go find Gibbs, get someone here who could deescalate the situation enough for them to get through the primary reason for their visit, Quin’s vision.

“Quin,” Aayla said quietly, carefully.

“A-Aayla?”  Quin said, sounding even shakier than he had been.

“Still here, big brother,” Aayla said, watching as the Agent seemed to relax a little, as if hearing their relationship had settled him.

The door opened and Gibbs strode in.  He wasn’t a Sentinel or a Guide, but his presence was enough to bring both the Agent and Quin out of their shocked state.

“DiNozzo, step out,” Gibbs said.

The Agent, Tony, glared at him, a growl starting in his throat.  Aayla moved, catching attention as she increased her empathic presence in the room.  Under her hand, Quin shifted, leaning towards her while Tony blinked several times, his eyes clearing.

“I’ll stay here,” she told him.  “Will you stand with my sentinel?  Quin will be safe, no one can enter this room without going through you.”

Tony stared at her for a long moment, then nodded, “Yes.”

Aayla smiled, “Thank you Tony.  My Sentinel is Bly.”

Tony stepped outside and shut the door.  The emotional tone of the room began to shift, becoming lighter as Quin leaned into Aayla and breathed.

“Well,” Quin said, “that was fun.”

“We’ll get you through this and on your way to the Center,” Gibbs began.

“Through this, yes, but I’m not going to the Center,” Quin said.  “I didn’t want to go last time.”

Aayla shifted, sliding into her seat, wishing she’d been able to bring something more than a pair of ceramic hair pins with her.  She was good and Bly was fast, but a building full of federal agents was more of a challenge than she judged them capable of.

“Let’s just focus on this morning,” Aayla said before Gibbs could go off, “and then we’ll discuss what will happen then.”

Gibbs sat down, pulling a pad of paper to him, “Let’s here what you saw, Mister Vosley.  I’ll ask some clarifying questions as we go.”

“Okay,” Quin said, “I was up at the Meridian Park today to look around, partly curiosity, and partly to set the place in my mind for future use.  I’m a writer and I like to see places like that for my work, it comes back out as the same place or as part of a new whole.  I intended to just walk around the park a bit and then catch a lift back home.  I was walking through some of the wooded area, following a jogging trail, when I heard some loud thumps and a gasp.  I felt,” he paused, “it was lust, at first so I just hurried up, wanted to get away from that, then pain, and well, I can’t describe it really, but it’s a specific emotional twist that basically means that a sadist is getting his rocks off.”

Aayla rubbed his arm gently, hoping the touch would help Quin keep focused on the here and now.

“I, I’ve encountered that sort of thing before,” Quin managed, “it dropped me hard into a flashback.  Came back out when the kid died.  I don’t know what I was thinking, I went forward, towards the sense of the sadist, and I saw him.”

The image in Quin’s mind was strong enough that Aayla picked it up through their contact and she gasped.

“He knows I saw him,” Quin continued as he shifted to wrap his arm around Aayla’s shoulders in support.  “He licked some of the blood off his knife before he took off.  I, I couldn’t move.  I couldn’t help the kid, I wanted to run, but I couldn’t.  He took off into the forest and then the cops showed up.”

“You knew him,” Gibbs said, looking at him.

Quin eyed the man for a long moment, “Yes.  I don’t know his name or anything like that, they called him the Captain.”

Aayla couldn’t help the whimper in her throat, but Quin squeezed her shoulders again, giving her more of his strength.

“He’s a sadist and the death is, it’s important to him,” Quin continued.

“They’re gone,” Aayla said as the thought occurred to her.

“Yes,” Quin said, “Plo packed it in as soon as we left.”

“Gone?”  Gibbs said.

Quin blinked slowly, “When someone has something to hide, Agent Gibbs, you don’t hang around places that are going to dig it up.”

Aayla didn’t need the near-telepathic link that Plo and Wolffe shared to know that Bly was coming, she didn’t even think, just let Quin’s arm slid away to be replaced by the safety represented by her Sentinel against the worst of her memories.

Chapter Text

Tim watched as the strange man spoke quietly to DiNozzo, who looked about ready to lose his cool.  Then the man jerked upright and stormed into the conference room, leaving DiNozzo standing and looking a bit uncertain.

Then Gibbs came out of the room and spoke to DiNozzo who nodded and went back inside.  Gibbs came down the stairs even more furious than he had been.  “McGee, Ziva, with me,” he snapped as he hit the landing, then turned around and headed back up to the conference room.

Tim hurried up after Gibbs, wondering what was going on.  In the conference room, DiNozzo was standing at one end of the room, blocking them from reaching the witness, an unfamiliar expression on his face.  The witness was hugging the people who had come with him.  When Tim and Ziva came in, the second man looked up at them giving them a sharp once over.

“This is Special Agent Timothy McGee and Officer Ziva David,” Gibbs said, “McGee, David, our guests here are Quinten Vosley, Aayla Spencer, and Bly Smith.  Quinten is our witness, but he’s also DiNozzo’s intended Guide.”

“You should be at the Center,” Ziva said.

Quin moved, grabbing a pen off the table, popping the cap as he stepped behind DiNozzo and holding the pen tip to his neck, “If one more person tries to make me go to the Guide Support Center, I will jam this through my aorta and to hell with the consequences.”

DiNozzo made the weirdest noise that Tim had ever heard a human throat produce, like a mix between a growl, whine, and a laugh, but it was cut short by DiNozzo coughing several times.

“That’s your jugular,” Aayla said, “and they aren’t going to make you go.”

“You’re going to need shielding for the bonding,” Tim said carefully.

“Or fifty unpopulated acres and a tent,” Aayla said.

“That’s not the problem,” Gibbs cut in, looking even more furious than he’d been before.

“What’s the problem?”  Ziva asked.

“They know our killer,” Gibbs said.

“We all three know him,” Quin added as he put the lid back on the pen.  “He knows us, and he knows I saw him today.”

“Protective custody?”  Tim asked.

“Yeah, no,” Bly said.  “We won’t last a day before somebody loses her shit and I’d be feral by the end of the week.”

“PTSD is a bitch,” Quin said dryly.  “Look, we don’t know what the Captain actually knows, and Plo took everyone else off grid and they won’t be found until they’re ready to be found.  Basically what we know is that the Captain knows I’m here, and after last time, I’m pretty sure that he’ll come hunting me with or without orders.”

“Quin,” Aayla said while Tim tried to figure out who “Plo” was.

“It might be the only thing we can do,” Quin said, “and that hurts like a bitch, but if it’s our option.”

“What?”  Gibbs said.

“Abeyance,” Quinn replied.  “It’s a technique that can help a Sentinel and Guide hold off the urge to bond if it isn’t safe.”  He frowned, very carefully not looking at DiNozzo, “It hurts to do, but once it’s done, Tony won’t be pushed to bond anymore.”

“You aren’t,” Gibbs said.

“Because of me,” Aayla said, “Quin, he’s really good at thinking around these kinds of traps.  I’m using a Guide technique to let him keep his brain to make this work.”

“It’s not common,” Quinn said, “most Guides wouldn’t even dream of being able to do these things, but we had to, we had to learn to do it to survive.  To get away from people who would hire the Captain, who would corrupt a Guide to the point of him using his abilities on other Guides to make them forget everything.”

“We need to find the Captain,” Bly Smith announced, “you probably want to arrest him, but putting a bullet in his brain would be a favor to humanity.”

Quin muttered something that made Aayla nod, and DiNozzo shudder.

“Tony,” Quin said, and DiNozzo turned to look at him, “we need to finish the case.”

Tim glanced at Ziva, who was staring at the quartet in the corner intently.

“Guide,” DiNozzo said, in a hoarse, strained voice.

“The case, Tony,” Quin said.

Something happened, Tim felt like his ears popped from an air pressure change and DiNozzo staggered back from Quin with a groan.  “Fuck.”

Aayla moved, retrieving two cups of water and handing one to DiNozzo, “You’ll want something for the headache, but you’ll be able to focus on the case for a few days.”

“If I could get access to the internet, I can figure out the bonding issue,” Quin offered, “have everything settled by the time you close the case, or it stalls to the point where we can take the time to finish this.”

“You want to?”  DiNozzo asked, seemingly startled.

“More than anything,” Quin replied, “but not when the Captain knows I’m in town.”  He shuddered slightly, “Please, that, that thing, I can’t.”

“Shh,” DiNozzo surged forward to pull the other man into a hug, “Okay.  We’ll figure this out.”

“Can I ask,” Tim said after a long moment, “why not the Center?”

Quin blinked at him for a moment, and Tim felt smaller than a bug under that look.  “Because I was taken from a Center when I was six years old for the purposes of experimentation.  It’ll be a cold day in hell before I trust them again.”

“I was three,” Aayla said, her hand reaching up to rest on her Sentinel’s shoulder.  “Same story, though.”

“The people that did it, they had a Guide working for them, he took my memories of home, my name, my family,” Quin said.  “No, I won’t trust the Center again, ever.”

DiNozzo nodded and stepped back from Quin, although they were still holding hands.  “Gibbs?”

“Let’s get to work,” Gibbs said.  “Vosley, you and your people should stay in here for now.  I’ll talk to the Director and we’ll get things arranged for you to be protected in a way that you can be safe, and we can live with.”

Tim glanced at Ziva, who was now looking at him in confusion.  That did not sound like their boss, what had these people done?

Chapter Text

Bly really didn’t like being stuck in a conference room.  Especially with knowing that the Captain was here.  He wanted to be free to hunt, to lose himself in the same instincts that drove his spirit guide, but he couldn’t.  He had to stay here, with Aayla and Quin.  He glanced at his Guide and had to fight a smile.  Aayla had gotten Quin to sit down and was now distracting him with a hand game.

Fifteen years ago, Aayla had been a tiny and terrified ten year old who had dropped the tazer she’d been given after she used it but had still kicked the Captain in the shins afterwards.  Bly had been thirteen and only his broken arm had kept him from killing the man then and there.  They’d known who they were to each other but had both waited until Aayla was sixteen before completing their bond.

He shuddered slightly, he knew exactly the kind of migraine Tony DiNozzo had experienced, he’d had to go through the same thing to make sure Aayla wasn’t hurt by his instincts.

“Bly,” Aayla said, “are you okay?”

“No,” Bly said, “but I’ll survive.”

Someone knocked on the door and Bly snapped to attention.  He’d been tracking heartbeats outside but hadn’t expected someone to stop at their door.  Ready for trouble, Bly glided to the door, grateful there was a table between his guide and the unknown outside.  Shifting into the best position to recover from someone charging the door, Bly reached out and turned the handle.

“Who is it?”  He asked tightly.

“Agent McGee.”

Bly thought of the broad shouldered, nervous mundane who had been introduced as part of Tony’s team.

“And?”  Bly prompted.

“We’re putting together a lunch order,” McGee said, “Gibbs sent me to get your orders.”

Bly glanced at Aayla; who’s head was tilted in the listening pose she adopted when assessing a threat.  Quin had his elbow on the table, propping up his chin, amused.  Aayla nodded and Bly stepped back, opening the door all the way.

“We’d be much obliged for lunch,” Aayla said as McGee stepped into the room, “where are you going?”

“It’s a kosher sub shop not too far from here,” McGee said, holding up a menu.

“Kosher?”  Quin said, “Are you Jewish?”

“No, Ziva is,” McGee said.

“Oh,” Quin said, holding out his hand, “the menu?”

“I don’t suppose we could get a deck of cards or something?”  Aayla asked, “It’s a bit dull in here.”

“I’ll ask,” McGee said as he handed over the menu.  “Uh, I was wondering, Mister Vosley.”

“Yes?” Quin said, looking up from the menu.

“Quinten Vosley, you’re the mystery writer, right?  Tony mentioned you earlier.”

“I am,” Quin said, “he’s read my work?”

“Just started the first, I think,” McGee said.

“Hmmm,” Quin said, then passed the menu to Aayla, “It’s nice to know we’ll have something to talk about.”  He pulled the pad of paper from the middle of the table and began to write.

“Bly, do you want to look?”  Aayla asked, holding up the menu.

“You know what I like,” Bly said as he pulled out his wallet.  “I trust you.”

“I- I wrote a book too,” McGee stammered, glancing at the door, “I hadn’t told them yet.”

“Oh, why not?”  Quin said.

“Tony, he likes to tease,” McGee said, his face scrunching up in dismay, “and he never lets it go.  Ever.”

“Are we talking about Tony, or are we talking about Quin?”  Aayla asked, amused, as she stole Quin’s pen to write down her order and Bly’s.

“Oh,” McGee said, looking like someone who’d had the unfortunate luck of meeting all of Bly’s brothers in a single go.  The there’s more than one of them look of dismay and fear.

“I won’t tell him,” Quin said.  “That’s your job, but when you do, I’ll make sure he shuts up about it.”  He dropped a twenty dollar bill on to the sandwich order, and Bly added his own cash as well.  “In a reasonable amount of time.”

“What do you consider reasonable?”  McGee asked suspiciously.

“Oh, a day or two,” Quin said, “depending on how long it takes you to tell him, how he finds out, that sort of thing.”

Bly glanced at Aayla, who winked at him where McGee couldn’t see.  Quin was being nice, yes, but he was also deflecting a few things, like he would in any way be able to control DiNozzo’s actions.

“So, am I going to be able to get on the internet?”  Quin asked.

“Oh shit,” Aayla said, straightening up.

Bly came to attention, ready to dial up his hearing in the process.

“What’s wrong?”  McGee asked.

“I have a paper due today, for school, I was, shit.”  Aayla banged her fist on the table, “They’ll have packed up the laptops and my hard drive, dammit.”

Bly relaxed slightly, “Your professor should understand, right?”

“Not Saunders, she’s got a hard on for on time or no time,” Aayla shook her head slightly.

“We’ll figure it out,” Quin said, “I’m sure there will be some kind of recourse.”

“Okay,” Aayla said.  She slid the paper and cash over to McGee, “Our lunch.”

“The money,” McGee began.

“We aren’t freeloaders,” Quin cut him off, “we’ll feed ourselves.”

McGee looked at him for a moment, then picked up the money and paper and left.

“Fuck,” Aayla said, “this is bad.”

“Don’t worry,” Quin said, “we’ll figure something out, even if it means getting your adviser to intercede on your behalf.  Being in protective custody after witnessing a murder has to give you some leeway.”

Aayla nodded, but Bly reached over to put his hand over hers as comfort.  Aayla had worked so hard to get in that class, had taken and retaken classes to get her GPA to an acceptable level in the professor’s eyes, to miss an assignment, her first big assignment, would read like a slap in the face.

There was a knock on the door, “It’s Tony,” DiNozzo called.

“Enter,” Quinn said, jumping to his feet, worried.

DiNozzo slid in the door, closing it behind him, looking confused, “So, there’s someone at the gate looking for you, a Chip Smith?”

Chapter Text

Chip hated driving the truck.  It was the first vehicle he’d ever gotten behind the wheel of, but he didn’t like it.  It was too big for him, literally and figuratively.  Still he was competent with it, having driven it off and on for two years now, and when the guard at the gate pointed him to a visitor’s parking lot where the truck could be checked over before he was allowed to go further in, he maneuvered the quarter ton pick up into the indicated space quickly.

“What is all this?”  One of the guards asked.

“My brother Bly’s guide’s adopted brother witnessed a murder earlier today.  He came here to give his statement to NCIS,” Chip recited robotically, having memorized the statement before he’s parted from the others. “Since the family was already in the process of moving and have jobs they’re expected to show up for by Monday, my other brother Wolffe and his guide, Paul, who is my guardian by law, decided that I should bring Quin’s truck here with his belongings, and seeing as my brother Bly and his guide are here, their stuff was included.  The motorcycle is mine, as is the orange backpack.  Depending on what’s happening with Quin, I’ll either stay with Bly or catch up to Wolffe, but the truck belongs to Quin.”

“I’m sorry, your brother Bly’s what?”  The guard said, his lips twitching.

“My brother Bly, who is a sentinel, is here with his guide, Aayla, to support Aayla’s adopted brother Quin, also a guide, in giving a statement to NCIS about a murder he witnessed this morning,” Chip said, rolling his eyes.

“And you’re here to drop off this truck, loaded with Quin’s things,” the guard said.

“I’m here to give Quin the keys to his truck,” Chip said, resting his hand on the rim of the truck bed, “I’m not dropping off anything.  It’s a handover.  Feel free to check what you need, it’s just usual stuff, clothes, laptops, assorted chargers, Quin’s lucky dragon, stuff like that.”

“We will have to check it over,” the guard said.

Chip held up his hand, “I get it, I understand.  I’d rather you check for things that shouldn’t be on the base than not check and have somebody get hurt because you should have checked.  If I’m complaining about anything, it’s that I got voluntold to do this in the first place.  Can I wait in the cab, or would you rather I step aside?”

“There’s a bench in the shade there,” the guard said, “my partner already called ahead to NCIS to tell them you’re here.”

Chip nodded, glancing around the Navy Yard on instinct, pausing at the sight of a very familiar face.  “Oh, so that’s why Bly’s headed this way with all the subtlety of a freight train.”  Chip glanced at the guard, “Don’t shoot him, he’s just worried about me, I promise.”

“Chip!”  Bly shouted as he hit the edge of the parking lot.

“Hey Bly,” Chip said, keeping his tone nonchalant as he gave his brother a lazy wavy.

“Don’t you ‘hey Bly’ me, what the hell are you doing here?”  Bly said as he got closer.

Chip glanced over Bly’s shoulder and spotted Aayla coming, followed by a dark haired woman.

“Paul sent me,” Chip said, indicating the truck.  “He thought Quin should have his truck and stuff, and he sent suitcases for you and Aayla.”

“But why are you here?”  Bly said as he reached Chip.  Chip resisted the urge to back up, knowing that Bly would hover and loom, but not hurt him.

“Because I have my bike and can get on my way once I delivered your stuff,” Chip said.  Perhaps Plo had seen something when he’d handed Chip the keys to the truck, because there had been a hesitation in his actions, as if he knew Chip was on the verge of making his final choice, the one that they all knew he would have to make when he was old enough.

Bly blinked, and yeah, Chip knew he’d picked up what Chip wasn’t saying, because he just pulled Chip into a hug, all of his anger fading out.

“Chip!”  Aayla yelled.

“Oh, I forgot about her,” Chip muttered as he wiggled free of Bly’s arms and turned to face his friend.

“What the hell,” Aayla said.

“Greetings from Paul, you forgot your laptop,” Chip tried, gesturing to the truck.

“What?”  Aayla said.

Chip didn’t grin, but he couldn’t help feeling smug because he almost never got one over on Aayla.  He never tried with Plo, and Quin was almost as Zen as Plo on that sort of thing, and Kara cheerfully fell for the distraction every time, and Jaran, well, Chip wasn’t sure what Jaran fell for and what he didn’t because the man had this habit of not blinking that was completely creepy.

“I brought your laptop, Paul said you’d need it, and your hard drive, and your textbooks,” Chip said, again indicating the truck.  “They’ve got make sure there’s nothing dangerous in there, I mean, other than Quin’s gym bag of course, and then I’ll get my bike out of the back and get out of your hair.”

Bly straightened, and so did one of the others, but while the stranger, a sentinel obviously, looked confused, then disgusted, then anger, Bly went pale, his eyes hardening to faultless amber as he stepped between Aayla, Chip, and the street.

Chip glanced at Aayla, but her surprise and exasperation had vanished behind her Guide Face as she stepped up and rested a hand on the small of Bly’s back.

Chip glanced at the other Sentinel, and one of the other guards was doing the same for him, although he looked confused and concerned.

“What,” the dark haired woman said.

Chip stepped back, pressing his back to the truck and leaned over to the woman to minimize the distraction.  “Bly and the other Sentinel have heard something.  No, I don’t know what.”

Bly made a cut off sound and leaped into action racing forward, with Aayla steps behind him and the other Sentinel following although his Guide was slow to respond.

“Get out of sight,” Aayla shouted over her shoulder.

Chip nodded and ducked around the woman to crouch in front of the truck, “Get down,” he told her.

“What?”  The woman said even as she took cover beside him, drawing a handgun.

“I don’t know,” Chip said, “but when the bonded Guide tells me to get out of sight, my job is to do so.  Where’s safe?”

“NCIS Headquarters,” the woman said after a moment, “across the parking lot and behind that building.”

Chip glanced and winced at how open the space was, with only cars in the way.  “I’m Chip, by the way, Chip Smith.  Bly’s my brother.”

“Ziva David, Mossad Liaison Officer to NCIS,” the woman said, “let’s go.”

“You lead, I follow,” Chip said as gun fire broke out.

They moved, ducking between rows of cars and carefully sprinting through the open spaces until they were around the building.

Agent Gibbs was charging towards them, gun in hand, followed by two other men, one of them a Sentinel, but it was the other one that made Chip realize he’d seen Officer David before.

“Oh fuck,” he muttered as the three men joined them.

“What happened?”  Gibbs demanded.

“The Sentinels reacted to something they heard, there was gun fire,” David began.

“Bly was scared,” Chip added, “he, he only gets scared when, when someone threatens Aayla, or the kids.”

“Not you?”  The Sentinel asked, eyeing him.

Chip drew back, stung, “I’m not a baby, I’m eighteen.  I can handle myself.”  He wanted to say more, to explain, but wasn’t sure how far Quin and the others were planning to go with this.  Instead, he firmed his chin and met the Sentinel head on, “Now, I’m supposed to be at the recruiter’s in an hour to go to MEPS, so if you don’t mind, I’d like to get this over and done with.”

“McGee, escort him up to see Vosley.  DiNozzo, Ziva, with me.”  Gibbs said.

“Come on,” the familiar agent said, “let’s go.”

As they approached the building, Chip cleared his throat, “So, um, I apologize for earlier, at the house?  It’s a security policy to run off anyone asking for Paul unannounced.”

“Did you mean to influence us?”  McGee asked.

“Not really,” Chip said, “I mean, I can do it, but I’m supposed to be really careful about that.  If I did, I apologize, I was fighting with my brother and wasn’t watching myself.”

“Unbonded,” McGee said.

“Yeah, not exactly,” Chip cut him off.  He nodded thanks as McGee pulled the door open.  “It’s complicated.”

“And you’re going to MEPS?”  McGee said.

Chip pulled his ID out and handed it over to security, “You know, where I come from, it’s complicated means none of your damn business, Agent McGee.  I’m just here to give my brother’s guide’s adopted brother his keys and then get on my way.”

He probably shouldn’t smirk, but the laughter of the security guard and some others in the lobby made him feel better about what was going on outside.

Chapter Text

By the time Ziva, Gibbs, and Tony reached the opposite side of the street, Smith and Spencer were standing facing each other, Spencer had her hands out, palm up, and Smith had his arms in her hands, with his hands wrapped around her forearms as they spoke softly.  The gate Sentinel and his Guide were pacing up and down the street, scanning the area.

“What happened?”  Gibbs demanded.

“The Captain was here,” Smith said, “he made threats towards Quin, Aayla, and Chip.  He was on a motorcycle; he was gone before we got close.”

“Those were nasty threats,” the other Sentinel added as he and his Guide approached.  His uniform identified him as Ward, his Guide was Jamison.  He was pale and his Guide was clearly holding back from touching him by dent of the look Gibbs was giving them.

“How bad?”  Gibbs said.

“Rape, mutilation, amputation, death,” Smith said with a handwave, “pretty sure the phrase ‘bathe in her blood’ was used.”  He leaned into his Guide a bit as she murmured something, they exchanged a look, then Smith nodded before looking back to Gibbs.  “I’d rather write it down, if you don’t mind.  Easier to distance myself if I’m not actually saying it.”

“Let’s get back to NCIS,” Gibbs said, he gestured to the two gate guards, “Keep an eye on things.  We’re going to arrange protection for them, but it’ll take time.”

“Agent,” Smith began.

“We have a solution,” DiNozzo said quickly, “it’s just the time frame, and making sure it’s an option before we suggest it to you.”  He glanced both ways down the street as the closest light changed and they all headed back to the Yard.

“Will you be with us?”  Spencer asked once they were inside the Yard perimeter.

“Absolutely,” DiNozzo said.

“What’s the story with your brother?”  Gibbs asked, “He’s a Guide?”

Smith and Spencer exchanged a long glance and Ziva took a moment to admire their relationship.  There were no overt clues as to what was going on between them, but it was if an entire conversation passed in the time it took to reach the doors to the building.

“The situation is complicated and tragic,” Smith said shortly, “if Chip wants to tell you, that’s his choice.”

Ziva wondered what that story was and set it aside under her mental list of things about these people she wanted to know.  She had sent out an inquiry or two out about Vosley before they’d picked him up, but other than confirming him as the mystery author Tony had discovered, there wasn’t anything to be found.  No kidnappings from a Center, no missing Guide matches, nothing she’d heard of yet.

DiNozzo seemed content to accept his Guide and his Guide’s associates at face value, which was more surprising than Ziva had originally thought.  She didn’t understand DiNozzo’s tendencies to joke around when the chance came, but after a rather painful conversation with Gibbs after the badly thought out dinner party had opened her eyes to DiNozzo’s skills as an investigator, skills that he’d freely shared with her when she’d managed to ask.

They entered NCIS and headed upstairs, only to encounter Jenny in the bullpen.

“Jethro,” Jenny said, “apparently there’s been some excitement.”

Gibbs exchanged a look with DiNozzo, who took Spencer and Smith up to the conference room while Ziva drifted around to her desk.

“Our witness and his associates are in protective custody,” Gibbs said, “they recognize the killer, identified him, and have been subjected to some very graphic and specific threats.”

“Recognize,” Jenny repeated.

“We’ve been in his presence before,” Smith announced.  All four of them were on the landing of the staircase with DiNozzo beside them.  “We’ve experienced his particular brand of cruelty.  Why he’s here, we don’t know.  Why he killed the Lieutenant, we don’t know.  Agent Gibbs, we’d really appreciate the chance to get out of here though.  If he’s tracked us this closely, then it would be better for all concerned if we weren’t here when he comes back.  Now if that means you’ve got whatever protection you thought of set up and we’re going there, or if it means that Aayla, Chip, and I are getting in the truck with Quin and figuring that part out ourselves remains to be seen.”

“We’re waiting for a call back,” Gibbs said.  “Jenny, this is Sentinel Bly Smith, his Guide, Aayla Spencer, Guide Quinin Vosley, and Guide Chip Smith.  This is the Director of NCIS, Jennifer Shepard.”

“Ma’am,” Bly said as Aayla nodded.

“So, am I going to make it to MEPS, or should someone call the recruiter and tell him what’s up?”  Chip said before Shepard could react, “I need to leave soon if I’m going to make it.”

Ziva checked her computer and blinked at finding an email from Liat.  She hadn’t expected a response that quickly, and especially not from Liat, who was more often in the field and out of contact.  While Gibbs handled the Director and the witness, Ziva read the email.

“No, I don’t have a name for the Captain,” Spencer said as Ziva stood, catching their attention.

“I don’t have a name, but I do have a code name,” Ziva said, “he is known as General Grievous, he is extremely dangerous, and the general conclusion is that your best choice is to terminate with prejudice.  He’s been involved in many high profile sentinel and guide murders.”

General Grievous,”  Spencer said with a soft laugh.

“Nerd,” Vosley added with a very poorly timed cough.

“Takes one to know one,” the younger Smith said.

“What?”  Gibbs said.

“General Grievous is a character from the Star Wars prequels,” Smith the Elder said, “he’s the leader of the enemy’s army.”

“Does this explain why he keeps running into Ben?”  Spencer said, “I mean, how many times has it happened?”

“Speaking of the prequels,” DiNozzo said, with that funny little smile he got when he was about to talk movies, “Aayla and Bly?”

The Sentinel and Guide assumed the most patently false innocent looks Ziva had ever seen while Quinten started giggling and Chip groaned and dropped his head into his hands.

“I’m sure I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Spencer said in a haughty tone of voice.

DiNozzo’s phone rang and he scrambled down the stairs to answer it while Gibbs and the Director began a low voiced conversation.  Ziva glanced between DiNozzo and the pair, wondering which would break first.

“All right, it’s done,” DiNozzo announced.  “Friday evening, there will be a private jet waiting to take us all to Washington State.”

“What’s in Washington?”  Bly asked.

“Well, the North American Sentinel and Shaman, for one,” DiNozzo said, “and their retreat, over fifty acres of private land with many isolated cabins ideally suited for our needs.  I understand how you feel about the GSC, but I’d hope that Jim Ellison and Blair Sandburg would be acceptable.”

The quartet on the landing exchanged glances for a moment, and then Smith the Younger said, “That sounds great and all, but I’d really rather be on my way to boot camp by Friday.  I get the whole active investigation, threats were made thing, but I didn’t spend the past two years campaigning for this to get derailed at the last minute.  I am going into the Marines, and nobody is going to stop me.”

“Aren’t there regulations about unbonded Guides?”  McGee said suddenly.

“Of course there are,” Smith the Younger said, drawing himself up and giving the room in general a hard look, “but I’m not unbonded, I’m a Bond Survivor.”

Ziva eased down in her chair, wishing things would make sense soon.  She’d never heard of an 18 year old Guide or Sentinel who had survived the death of their other half.  If they weren’t directly involved in events, they tended to either suicide or otherwise find death within weeks of the destruction of their bond.

Chapter Text

Tony couldn’t focus.

Every time he tried, he remembered what Bly had written down, the words that Grievous had uttered, and he wanted to be on the streets, hunting for the man who had dared target his Guide.

“DiNozzo!”  Gibbs snapped.

Tony glanced up at him, “Yeah Boss?”

“You’re growling again,” Gibbs said.

“Sorry Boss,” Tony said.  He held up his hands, “I may not be the best person to be on this case, Boss.  Not today.”  He’d handled cases where Guides had gotten hurt, had stood his ground to Sentinels who’d gotten their protect the Guide instinct twisted into worse.  The difference was that this was his Guide, a Guide he’d been looking for since he first woke up and realized the school’s cafeteria was serving his favorite blueberry muffins before he even got close to the cafeteria.

“DiNozzo,” Gibbs said, his tone surprisingly understanding, “finish those searches and then go with your Guide to the safe house.”

“Yes boss,” Tony replied.

Bly and Aayla had refused to leave Quin, not after Chip had set himself to throw a tantrum to get to go to MEPS and Gibbs had shut him down by agreeing, pointing out that the kid would be observed and secure in the crowd.

The conference room door slammed open and Aayla shot out, “Agent Gibbs, do you have the security feeds from this afternoon when the Captain showed up?”

“Yes,” Gibbs said slowly.

“Can I see it?”  Aayla said as she tripped down the stairs in her haste, “Not, not for him.  There was something else.”

Bly and Quin followed Aayla as Gibbs looked at McGee who put the images on the screen.

Tony glanced around, surprised to realize that the bullpen was actually empty of everyone but them.  He glanced at the clock on the computer, it was nearing ten pm.

“There,” Quin said, and Tony glanced up, following Quin’s finger to someone on the screen.

“Fuck,” Aayla said as Bly straightened up.  “It’s her.”

“Who?”  Gibbs asked.

“Asia Ventori,” Quin said, “Guide, bond survivor, assassin.  She works for the same people the Captain does, but her specialty is hunting guides.”

“It was a warning,” Aayla said.  She turned to Gibbs, “The Lieutenant, it wasn’t random.  It was a warning.  They tracked us down and wanted us to know.”

“Kara,” Bly said, “and Jaran.”

“Plo will get them out,” Quin said quickly, “they’re gone.”

“What about Chip?”  Tony asked as he stood up, something didn’t feel right.

“Asia will ignore him,” Aayla said, “she already…”

Bly hissed and Tony turned, “Something,” Tony began as he eased his desk open and pulled out his gun.  Gibbs caught the motion and went for his own, gesturing to McGee as Ziva stood.

Quin drifted around to stand beside Tony, collecting a pen and scribbling on a blank sheet are there any spare weapons here?

“Ziva,” Tony breathed, looking across the way.

Bly turned to Ziva and strode over, dropping his head to murmur in her ear, a thread of sound that Tony discarded in favor of listening to the sound of many feet on the stairs.  Ziva reached in her drawer and pulled out three more guns, allowing Bly and Aayla both to claim one.  Quin headed over to get the third when the footsteps stopped.

“Incoming,” Tony breathed softly, lifting his gun to where the intruders would have to come in.

A sharp, high pitched whine cut through the room and Tony bent over, hands coming up to his ears as he groaned.  Quin turned back instantly racing to get his hands on Tony’s shoulders, his voice clear over the noise, just saying his name over and over again.  Tony pictured his dials, clear and precise, and dialed down his hearing, centering on Quin easily in the process.  As the sound, and the pain receded, he saw Bly and Aayla kneeling in the middle of their space, Aayla half draped over Bly as he recovered.

As Bly’s hands began to drop, several loud bangs sounded, followed by a hollow thud and hissing sound.

“Down,” Tony called, pulling Quin with him.

There were five explosions, flash bangs that rocked the room, and then Quin pulled Tony’s gun from his hand and stood up.  Tony could feel the recoil of the gun firing from where his shoulder pressed into Quin’s leg, and he reached into his other desk drawer and grabbed his back up, checking the ammo before surging up beside Quin and opening fire at the black clad men who came in.  For a moment, he wanted to know how this had happened, had Sam the night guard been injured or killed, but forced that aside as Quin shifted.

“Come on,” Aayla said, as she and Bly moved to crouch by Gibb’s desk, each taking it in turn to pop up and fire shots.

“Where?”  Quin asked.

“This way,” Gibbs said, “McGee, go!”

They pulled back, following McGee to the other emergency stairwell.  Tony dialed up his hearing carefully, listening for anyone there, but as they entered the hallway, he could hear nothing.

Until he did.

“Gibbs, Abby!”  Tony called.

“I’ll go,” Ziva said as Gibbs turned to look at them in surprise.

“We can go out through the evidence garage or autopsy,” McGee offered as they gathered around the secondary fire escape.


Quin flinched at the sharp, feminine voice.

“Run if you can Vos!  We’re coming for you and we will get you.”

Aayla put a hand on Quin’s arm and he shook his head slightly.  “Better check your aim next time!”  Quin hollered back, “You missed big time.”

McGee opened the door and they all entered.  Then they hurried downstairs to where Abby’s music and her commentary about some evidence results echoed up to Tony.

There were going to be a lot of questions when this was over, Tony thought.  Too many questions.

They raced into Abby’s lab, and Gibbs gave Tony and Bly enough of a warning before he cranked Abby’s music up just a big more and then began signing to her quickly.  Tony turned to Quin, who was still shaking, and hesitated.  He wanted to offer his Guide a hug, a reminder that he wasn’t alone anymore, but he wasn’t sure it would be accepted.

Quin was wide eyed and shaking, looking almost terrified as he stood, gun awkward in his hand.  Suddenly, he looked at Tony, who held out his hand in a silent offer.  Quin took it, throwing himself at Tony and letting Tony wrap him in a comforting hug.  He glanced over Quin’s head and found Bly and Aayla standing similarly.  Bly was watching him, and when their eyes met, something passed between them, an understanding.

Then Gibbs passed between them, Abby on his heels.  Tony urged Quin to follow as they cut through to the lab access to the evidence garage.  Instead of going to the front, where the big door was now closed, Gibbs led them to a side door that Abby had to put in a code for and they were outside.  As they cleared the structure, Tony heard something that made him look up.  Two helicopters hovered over the NCIS building, the big black silent ones that the military used for covert insertions.  That must be how they got into the building in the first place.

Gibbs lead them to the back of the building, where a short run got them into the shelter of another building.  There, they gathered close to talk.  They had escaped NCIS, but the question was, where did they go next?

Chapter Text

After a series of hushed conversations while Bly and Aayla kept watch, they all climbed into two black sedans that Tony had explained were NCIS agency cars.  Gibbs, with Abby beside him, took McGee and David.  Tony took Quinn, Aayla, and Bly. 

“We’ll meet up with them later,” Tony said as Gibbs headed one way on the road and he went the other.

“Is it safe?”  Bly asked from the back seat.

“We think so,” Tony said, “but we don’t know how much these people know about us.  Our first goal is getting out of here without being followed.  I’m taking you to the FBI, temporarily.  Gibbs is calling Fornell to meet us there.  We can regroup there and figure out what next.”

“I know what next,” Quin said firmly, “I was thinking about it, and as nice as it was for Ellison and Sandburg to make their offer, I don’t think we have that kind of time.  I have a safe location on the East Coast that I know isn’t compromised.  It’s nothing any of them can trace back to me and I’d rather go to ground there, so that we can get back to DC as soon as possible.”

“We’d rather stay here,” Bly said.

“We can help hunt the Captain and Asia,” Aayla added.

“I don’t know if that’s possible,” Tony said carefully.

“I’m one semester away from getting my degrees in criminology and forensic science,” Aayla said quietly.

“I’ve got my masters in criminology,” Bly added.

“We were planning to find our way into law enforcement soon,” Aayla continued, “we just hadn’t figured out where we wanted to start.”

Quin smirked to himself for a moment, “I’ve got credits for criminology too, but I haven’t been as consistent in the work as Aayla and Bly.  I didn’t think we’d get to a point where I’d actually be able to settle down at a reasonable age and I’ve always been good at spinning a tale.”

“Are you settling down?”  Tony asked.

“I’m not leaving you,” Quin replied firmly.  “I don’t know what else is going to happen, but you aren’t getting rid of me.”  He hesitated a moment, “I mean, that.”

Tony reached over and grabbed his hand, “No further than this, Guide.”

Quin sighed and squeezed his hand, reassured.

“So, how did you acquire this safe house?”  Tony asked.

“Technically I inherited it,” Quin said.  “After we got away from the facility, we all applied for asylum.  Some of us went up to Canada, the rest here in the US.  Once we were legally recognized by the government, we applied for citizenship.  Some of us who were underage ended up in the foster system.  Aayla and I were fostered by an older couple in North Carolina who had outlived both of their children.  While they didn’t adopt me, they were good people and when they died, they left me their property.  They lived in a tiny, old fashioned town that hasn’t quite caught up to the twenty-first century, their records were all on paper, so while ‘Quinten Vosley’ is on the paperwork, I’ve been told it’ll be another ten years before it’s on a computer somewhere.”

“That’s where you think we should go?”  Tony asked.

“Yes,” Quin said, “it’s isolated, so no empathic feedback on the population, there are limited ways to get to the cottage, and until this moment, I have never mentioned it even existed.”

“Not even to Plo?”  Aayla asked.

“Nope,” Quin said.  “I needed someplace safe, A.”

“I get it,” Aayla said, reaching up to squeeze his shoulder.

They all fell silent after that, as if wanting to think through the specifics of what had been going on.  Quin ran through the options of where Plo and the others had gone.  He had a feeling that they had split up again.  Kara, Zip, Jaran, and Saneone would have taken Misha, Glider, and Style with them, given that Misha tolerated those two best while Plo, Wolffe, and Krysta would have Foxxe, Trick, and Flare with them.  If they were really interested in distracting their pursuers, Jaran and Kara would have agreed to split up, with Kara taking her son and Jaran taking the other two, but Jaran and Kara were like Quin and Aayla, siblings in all but blood.  Quin also thought that Kara would have finally made good on her threat to get out of the country this time, heading into the Caribbean Islands to go to ground while Plo would have headed out to Obi-Wan’s hideout as soon as he was sure they weren’t being followed.

“Here we are,” Tony said, pulling into a covered parking garage.  “I haven’t seen any sign of us being followed.”

“Me either,” Bly agreed.

They headed across the garage to the entrance, where an older man waited for them.

“DiNutso!”  The man snapped, “Why am I awake at midnight?”

“Because someone just tried to kill us inside NCIS headquarters?  Didn’t Gibbs explain?”  Tony replied with a sigh.

“It’s Gibbs,” the man said.

“Right,” Tony said, “Fornell, this is Guide Quinten Vosley, Guide Aayla Spencer, and Sentinel Bly Smith.  Quin witnessed a murder this morning.  Later, the murderer issued threats against all three of them, followed by an attack at NCIS tonight.  Quin, Aayla, Bly, this is Tobias Fornell, Special Agent in Charge and the FBI liaison to NCIS.”  He paused, “He and Gibbs also share an ex-wife.”

“That’s not awkward,” Aayla said, amused.

“So what’s the plan here?”  Fornell said as he gestured to the building.

“You’ll need to coordinate that with Gibbs,” Tony said, “as soon as everything’s settled here, Quin and I are going to be unavailable.”

“How unavailable?”  Fornell asked.

“Sentinel and Guide unavailable,” Tony said.

Fornell eyed them for a moment and Quin cleared his throat, “We’re in abeyance, Agent Fornell.  It’s a temporary suppression of the need to bond in the face of a threat, but it’s temporary, and it’ll fade away quickly.  With the attacks, it’s probably best if we confirm the bond sooner rather than later.”

“I’ve never heard of abeyance,” Fornell said.

“And do you know everything about Sentinels and Guides, Agent Fornell?”  Quin replied in a sweet tone that one usually used when speaking to small children.

“Just get inside and we’ll figure out what’s going to happen next,” Fornell said, gesturing to the door.