Tony DiNozzo replaced the handset on his desk phone and regarded it for a moment, deep in thought. “Huh,” he eventually said, lips pursed.
Ziva looked up, and tilted her head in curiosity. “Tony? Cat has your tongue?”
Tony looked at her for a moment. He shrugged. “Meh. Close enough. That was Commander Tucker from MacArthur Base calling.”
Ziva straightened up immediately. “Is there more trouble?” she said, automatically opening the drawer and pulling her gun out.
“Whoa! Wait a minute!” Tony exclaimed, throwing his hands up. “It was just a follow-up state of the situation type call.”
Ziva subsided, and sat back down again. “And?” she demanded, giving a haughty sniff. “You do not stare at the telephone for that long unless there is more.”
“Couple of things actually,” Tony conceded. “Once we gave ‘em the word we were done with the crime scene, they started on the clear-up. Mainly to see what was broken, what needed to be replaced, and what, if anything, was missing.”
Ziva’s eyes narrowed in on Tony like a hawk. Something in the way he’d stressed that last part.... “And what was
missing?” she demanded.
Tony grinned. “You really are good at this,” he said in an amused tone, before suddenly going all serious again. “They ran the records of what they should have against what they could find in there. End result: sixteen damaged crates that can be happily replaced or written off, and one crate that there’s absolutely no sign of.”
“Interesting,” Ziva said, her mind racing over all the possibilities. “From the security records we watched, nobody exited the building with a crate, so wherever it is, it must still remain inside.”
“Which is why Tucker’s had his men search the warehouse three times now. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Da big fat zero.”
Ziva ignored Tony’s inappropriate timing at attempting to improve her English, and focused in on the mystery crate. “You mentioned records. What do they say about it?”
“Ah, now’s there the very interesting bit.” Tony looked grim. “Contents are officially listed as ‘hazardous biological materials’.”
Ziva blinked. “Why would something like that be stored at a supply base like MacArthur? That makes no sense.”
Tony raised one finger. “Also, no-one can make out the signature on the paperwork, but everyone swears they didn’t sign for it. Routing information claims it came from a Herbert Hoover Base in Iowa, but that’s been closed for a decade now.”
“Herbert Hoover?” Ziva repeated, her eyes going unfocused for a moment.
“’Erbert ‘Oover,” Tony smirked back.
“Herbert Hoover!” Ziva said triumphantly, and started digging through the paperwork on her desk.
“By George, I think she’s got it!” Tony said. To no-one in particular. He sighed. There were definitely times when he missed having Probie around to appreciate a nice reference.
He joined Ziva at her desk, where she pulled out a piece of paper from the bottom of a pile with an air of accomplishment. “Herbert Hoover Base, Iowa,” she repeated. “Gibbs asked me to check into anything named the Initiative. All that I have found so far was a reference to a project located at Herbert Hoover Base, and ran by a Doctor Margaret Walsh.”
“And?” Tony said, making a motioning gesture with his hand.
“As you said, Tony, the project and base were closed down ten years ago on the death of the project leader.” She shrugged. “I did not think it was worth further investigation at the time.”
Deflated, Tony returned to his desk and sat down. Leaning back in his chair, he studied Gibbs’s empty desk. “Any idea when Gibbs is going to get back from his meeting with Fornell?”
He suddenly looked to his left, expecting to see Gibbs there, but was disappointed. “Dammit!”
“That trick only works when you are not expecting him,” observed Ziva with an amused smile. “Was there anything other from Commander Tucker?”
Tony shrugged. “Just your normal everyday crap, little minutia you get from running a base that size. Five thousand dollars rolled up and hidden away, two different locations where someone else has stashed a couple of joints, and someone who swears her laundry has been stolen.”
He grinned. “Oh, and the neighbours who also swear their dog has gotten onto the base and never come back.”
Tony’s gaze fell on McGee’s computer, which was happily humming away on the desk next to him. Damn – not even Probie around to annoy.
Perhaps he should get back to work.... He picked up the phone and started dialing.
~ + ~McGee’s apartment.
Special Agent Timothy McGee swore as he dropped the last disc needed onto his feet. It bounced somewhat and slid across the floor. He bent over to pick it up and cracked his head on the edge of the table.
“Dammit!” he swore again. Everything that could have gone wrong for him had gone wrong. All the traffic lights on his way here had been red, his computer had been in the middle of a forced update (thank you very
much, Microsoft!) and the entire process of copying his anti-hacking programs had taken much, much longer than he expected.
Still, it was done now. Nothing else could possibly delay him getting back to NCIS.
There was a knock on the door.
Tim closed his eyes as if in pain. “Who is it?” he called out, opening them again.
“Pizza!” came the muffled reply. “Got an order for a P Robbie... McGeek... here.” The voice tailed off. “Um... there might be a mistake here... let me phone the shop.”
“DiNozzo!” swore McGee, and stormed over to the door. Without even looking through the peephole, he threw the door open. “Look, I’m sorry but I think you’ve been the victim of a sorta friend of mine...” He paused in shock.
Faith Lehane smirked at him. “Yeah, definite mistake. Looks like I forgot the pizza.”
The last thing McGee remembered after that was her fist heading towards his face at high speed.
~ + ~