One: Cops and Corpses
By Sam James
Disclaimer: Characters and concepts from Buffy the Vampire Slayer are owned by 20th Century Fox and Mutant Enemy and created by Joss Whedon. Characters and concepts from NCIS are owned by CBS Paramount Television and Belisarius Productions and created by Donald Bellisario. Characters and concepts from The West Wing are owned by Warner Bros. Television and created by Aaron Sorkin except for concepts created by James Madison and the other founding fathers. Characters and concepts from Stargate SG-1 are owned by Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer and created by Brad Wright and Jonathan Glassner (from the movie by Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich). Washington, D.C. is owned by the United States and created by Pierre L’Enfant. Characters and concepts from Veronica Mars are owned by Warner Bros. Television and created by Rob Thomas. No money is being made from this story and the author claims no ownership of anything save the plot, wording, and the occasional background character.
Although Tony DiNozzo and Ziva David routinely looked up from their desks when they heard the elevator bell, they did so for very different reasons. Tony looked up as a distraction from his work, to see if he needed to hide evidence of goofing off from his boss, or to look for someone to tease. Ziva, as a former member of the Israeli spy agency, automatically did threat assessment, ready to shoot or run. So when the bell rang and Timothy McGee walked in, Ziva just gave him a quick glance before automatically labeling him harmless. But the former policeman scrutinized the newcomer more closely.
“You look awful,” Tony declared. “What happened? You lose a fight to a girl scout?”
Tony was half right, Tim considered. He did look somewhat off. There were bags under his eyes. His hair had not had its usual careful combing and his hurried shaving left his face still ragged. His tie was off-center and his shoes had not been polished. Worse of all, he was late.
“I didn’t have a good night,” Tim said. “I stayed up late working on my book because I just couldn’t get this scene working right.” The MIT graduate frowned. “Then I slept through the first alarm.”
“First alarm?” the Italian-American asked. “You have more than one?”
“Of course,” Tim replied. “In case something happens to the first. Redundancy.”
Both men were surprised when they heard a voice from behind them, “Clock watch on your own time,” said their boss, Leroy Gibbs. “Dead Lt. Commander in Georgetown.”
After a quick ride, made even quicker due to Gibbs’ driving, the four arrived at the condo building. As they left the car, Tim looked for Dr. Donald Mallard, better known to the team as “Ducky,” but did not expect to see the medical examiner for at least five more minutes. His driver, the medical assistant Jimmy Palmer, simply could not keep up with Gibbs’ speed.
So, the four were by themselves when they entered the building. Gibbs signed for the team at the front desk, showing his badge to the doorman. “Ziva,” Gibbs said, nodding toward the doorman.
“On it,” said Ziva. Once they found the time of death, she would gently interrogate the doorman and any members of the building staff.
As the group moved to the elevator, Gibbs pointed to the camera focused on the elevator bank. “Tapes too,” Ziva nodded in response and Tim sighed. Ziva might collect the tapes, but he knew he would be the one watching them. Maybe Abby would help.
The police had come and gone, obviously staying just long enough to notice that the victim was military. One of the victims, that is. Lieutenant Commander Nelson Pondler was wearing civilian clothes. He was a fit man in his early 30s, his hair short but not quite a crew cut. His shirt was soaked with blood. Tim knew investigators were supposed to let the medical examiner determine cause of death, but it did not take an expert to recognize the obvious signs of a shooting. The other body was a woman, slightly younger than the man, with blond hair going to the bare shoulders of her strapped dress. She looked like she was shot twice, once in the shoulder, once in the chest.
Two feet from woman lay a cold gun, standard Navy issue. The gun’s position was such that it could not have been dropped by the woman after shooting herself. If this was the killing weapon, than someone else was the killer.
Aside from the bodies, the room was neat and orderly; this was a common trait among Navy officers who had been to sea. There were only a few books, but many pictures. Most of them featured Pondler and a short redhead.
Tony pointed to one, “Seems to share your taste in women, boss.” Gibbs frowned. His predilection for redheads was well known to the team.
“More like your tastes,” Ziva shot back, looking down at the dead woman’s blond hair. “Any available.”
“Enough!” barked Gibbs. Tim ignored the byplay. He was in lust. Not for the woman or the picture, but for the sleek state-of-the-art computer system in the small room to the side, obviously a home office.
“Boss,” Tim poked his head out of the office. “This is a very sophisticated computer system. No sign of gaming equipment but this is much more than he’d need to do word processing and spreadsheets.” Gibbs just looked at him. “Yes, boss. I’ll find out what he does and see if I can access his computer.” He glanced around. “Has anyone seen the cell phone?” Tony was taking pictures and Ziva was taking samples.
After a few minutes more, Ducky entered with his assistant. “Sorry, Jethro. No place to park.” He glanced at the bodies. “Not much need for me here.”
Gibbs frowned. “The time?”
“Ah yes.” He took a few readings. “I won’t really know until I get them in my morgue.”
“More than 12, less than 48 is the best I can do. But even that’s rough.” He smiled. “I can say that the cause of death appears to be the bullet wound. At least for now.”
Tony laughed. “And for that he went to medical school?”
“The obvious cause is not always the real one, young Anthony. I remember one case, shortly after I joined NCIS when a robber was surprised by an armed officer. The officer insisted he shot to apprehend, not kill. And it turned out, he was right. The robber had a heart attack when he saw the gun and heard it fire. Then there was the case…”
“Ducky,” Gibbs said.
“Oh yes,” Ducky said. “Let’s get these two home shall we Mr. Palmer? Anthony, can we borrow your strong back?” The three carried the bodies back to Ducky’s van. Meanwhile, Ziva and Tim finished taking pictures, collecting samples, and dusting for fingerprints. Tim checked the computer and pulled out the main unit. He was sure it would be password protected, but Tim knew some tricks he would try.
Back at NCIS headquarters, forensic scientist Abigail Sciuto had her music blaring. She turned it down to listen to Tim explain what they found. He gave her the samples and the perky goth signed the chain-of-evidence sheet. She then began running the fingerprints into Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) while Tim hooked up Nelson Pondler’s computer. Neither expressed surprise when the AFIS beeped shortly after Abby entered the first fingerprint from the gun. As a member of the military, Pondler’s fingerprints were on record and Abby had long since set the machine to check Navy records first. Discarding those, although noting the gun was most likely Pondler’s own, she fed in a print that seemed to be from a smaller hand.
Less than a minute later, the phone rang. Abby made a zip-it signal and Tim turned off the music as Abby answered the phone. “NCIS Forensics, Sciuto speaking.”
“This is Homeland Security. Authorization code Alpha Gamma 7393 Sigma Victor.
Abby typed the code into the computer. The word Verified blinked. “Code accepted.”
“You entered a print into AFIS. We need to know why.”
Abby bounced. “You know who it is?”
“The person is a major special asset. We would need a compelling reason.”
“How about murder?” Abby asked. “The prints came off a gun that killed a Lt Commander and a civilian woman.”
There was a long pause. “We will, of course, need to speak to the agent in charge,” the voice said. “There are special security considerations. But the person who left the print is named Willow Rosenberg.”