Powers and People
A/N Thanks to everyone for the overwhelming response to chapter 1, it made writing this chapter a lot easier. I know that the time line is a bit fudged but hey, this is my world for the moment, even if I have no real claim on either NCIS or BTVS. Constructive criticism is always welcome but flames will be devoutly ignored. Enjoy.
POWERS AND PEOPLE
Xander closed his copy of “Deep Six” and looked out the window as he thought. He was thinking that it would be worse than he had first imagined. From everything that he had read, these people were sharp and very savvy. They had connections both high and low and Xander had no doubt that a lot of the dirty laundry that he had accumulated over his ten years in Africa would be brought into play. He needed to come up with a way to either minimize what they found or lead them in the wrong direction or keep them off balance. It went without saying that exposure of the active slayers and watchers was the one thing he could not allow. So with that in mind, he started to scheme. Twenty minutes later, Penny Clemens, the stewardess for first class; went to ask the man in 2B if there was anything he needed. She walked away quickly with goosebumps rising on her arms, question unasked. The grin that had been on his face reminded her of Heath Ledger’s incarnation of the Joker, that is to say equal parts demented and joyful. She pitied whoever had inspired that look on the young man’s face.
Tim McGee was not having a good day, nor had his night before been anything to write home about. It had seemed to be such a simple assignment, find out everything he could about one Alexander Lavelle Harris. McGee had a birthday a hometown and even a social security number; it should have taken 10 minutes and a couple of simple hacks to have the man’s entire life at his fingertips. And he did, well up to a point at least. He had a copy of the birth certificate, Harris’ elementary, middle and high school grades and disciplinary reports, job history, engagement notice, hospital reports, credit reports and purchases, the works; right up until 2003. Then the guy just seemed to fall right off the map. No credit card records, tax records or anything electronic. The one thing he did have post 2003 was an application for dual citizenship with the UK, but that was all, and McGee knew that Gibbs wanted more than that.
So McGee went digging in his own way and with one swing of his metaphorical shovel, found the Great Wall of China of firewalls. He’d never encountered anything remotely similar and before he could even think to get away, the damned thing’s security went active and completely overwhelmed his system. In the end he had no control and no display beyond a screen asking for a password. Well, a simple enough fix for that, he just re-booted his system, but for some reason that didn’t clear things up, there was just that damned password box. So he disconnected everything and completely shut down for 2 hours, and when he started up he used a copy of his old OS on a flash-drive rather than what was on the hard drive. But when it was all said and done, the only thing on his screen was that password box; but at least he had the enjoyment of watching his flash-drive melt. That was when he made his ultimate mistake. He told Abby all about it.
Now he was no closer to finding anything out about Alexander Harris and on top of it he had to stand there listening to Abby curse his very existence because her personal computer system was currently only functional as a paper-weight and somehow it was all his fault. A slow grin crept up his face as a thought occurred to him. Yes, Abby was pissed at him, and yes, Gibbs was going to rip him a new one; but it would be worth it to see what Abby would do to the new guy.
Ziva David looked at the phone number at the bottom of the page with barely concealed loathing. It was a number that she would rather not call, but unfortunately every other potential source of information that she had ever made use of had come up empty. Ziva had no real idea as to who this Alexander Harris was, but he definitely made an impression. So far the response from all of her contacts fell into three distinct categories; those that had told her that there was nothing that they were willing to say, those that had told her that they were too afraid to say anything and those that had told her to make sure her health insurance was up to date. She looked down at her last source and with a grimace, picked up the phone and dialed.
“I expected your call half an hour ago daughter.”
“I was double checking a few things,” was her terse reply. She hated how he could make her feel like an awkward thirteen year old with just the tone of his voice.
“Indeed, well I must tell you that you are making dangerous inquiries. What is your interest in Alexander Harris?”
“He is being assigned to our team for a year to learn investigative techniques.” Ziva was shocked to hear her father gasp aloud at this information; her father had such tight a control over his emotions that such a slip was significant. To Ziva it meant that this man scared even her father.
“I would tell you to leave there now but you would not,” Eli David told his daughter. “Be very careful around this man Ziva, his reputation is terrifying and that is only based on what little we do know.”
“So you have looked into him?”
“We have tried, but his agents are incredibly loyal to him so what little we get is second or third hand at best.” There was a sigh, as Eli gave in even more to his emotions, “when you are dealing with him, remember that he has survived the last ten years criss-crossing Africa and that is no small feat. I would not hesitate to call him one of the most dangerous men in the world.”
“I will remember father, is there anything that you can tell me about him or his organization?”
“I will send you what I can Ziva, but I require something in return.”
“And that would be,” Ziva asked through clenched teeth. Her own father was scared of this man but rather than simply give it to her so that she would be better prepared, he still used it to bargain.
“There was an incident in Gabon back in 2007. We have good reason to believe that Mr. Harris was involved but no direct proof. Find that proof if it exists.”
“And why is this so important?”
“Because a man was killed. Not a very good man but a reliable man, one who had helped us over the years. I would know the truth about his death and who caused it.”
Ziva knew that her father would eventually try to use this situation as a lever to get her back under some sort of control but knowing that the trap was there was half the job of avoiding it. “Very well Father, send me what you have and I will make . . . . inquiries.” She hadn’t even finished speaking when her fax machine started printing. She hung up the phone, missing her father’s whispered, “be careful daughter.” There was very little information in the file, but it was something.
Tony DiNozzo wanted to get drunk, actually he desperately needed to get drunk. Because if he was drunk then he just might be able to forget all of the stuff that he had just learned. He’s been striking out spectacularly in his effort to find out anything about Alexander Harris until he was talking Billy Wilson, an old buddy of his that was still in the Baltimore PD. In the course of the conversation, DiNozzo mentioned that the guy he was looking up grew up in Sunnydale California. Billy told him that they had a desk Sergeant who had transferred out from Sunnydale back in fall of 1999. Before he knew it, DiNozzo was talking with a Sergeant Tiller and after five minutes he was sitting down, after ten he just wanted to get drunk, then it got bad. Alexander Harris had been a person of interest in no less than One Hundred and Twenty Five homicides, muggings and disappearances. What really got to DiNozzo was that all of this occurred before the kid had finished High School. No convictions or even arrests, but still; to be suspected in over one hundred felonies before you’re even twenty surely set some kind of record. Tony just sat back and stared at nothing as the tail end of the conversation played in his head again. “Did you ever get a chance to talk to him?”
“Nah, Sunnydale was a weird place; it was almost like two towns. During the day it was small town America, you know what I mean; domestic disputes, or where some idiot shoots a gun at the wrong time were about the worst we dealt with on the day shift. But the crazies just came out of the woodwork at night. We’d come in to find an unbelievable stack of reports to be filed, and they only covered the violent stuff.”
“You ever take a turn at the night shift?”
“I wanted to, but the Chief discouraged it. He was all shift pride and that kind of thing so we never got the night shift bleeding over into first and we didn’t play in their sandbox. It didn’t make much sense to me but we were told it was some kind of psychological study that the mayor or one of the eggheads from the local college had gotten some government money to study, so we went along with it.”
“So how did you know about Harris?”
“When I filed all those damn reports. You know how it is, if some skel is mentioned in a report you gotta put a note in his jacket, and Harris had one hell of a jacket. Him and a couple others were mentioned all the time, Willow Rosenberg and Buffy Summers. I remember thinking that you only find names like that in California.”
DiNozzo wrote the two names down; he’d give em to McGeek later so the guy could chase em down. “Anyone else normally associated with Harris?”
“Yeah, the Librarian at the high school; guy named Rupert Giles. He was a British national with a valid green card. He was questioned in a couple of murders. One was another British national so the Bureau jumped on that one; the other was a teacher that was murdered in his apartment but he had an alibi for that one.”
“You make it sound like bad things just follow these people.”
“That’s a good way to put it,” Tiller agreed with a snort. “If this guy’s gonna be on your team, I’d get a bullet proof vest.”
Tony hung up soon after, but Tiller’s last sentence stuck with him as he went to sleep.
Ziva arrived early as she usually did, but today she wasn’t the first team member there. She wanted to confirm some of the information on Harris that was in the Mosad’s report, travel dates and such. She did this as a way of back checking, if whoever did the investigating got the minor details right then it was likely that the meat of the report was correct as well. She sat down her coffee and looked over at McGee. The younger man had the pieces of his laptop scattered around his desk and he was glaring at the mess as if his computer had betrayed him somehow. There was the brief sound of a drill and Ziva realized that someone else was there as well. She followed the sound to a nearby desk which had a work order lying on top, several tools, hardware and sheet-metal scattered around it and a pair of legs sticking out from under it. She checked to make sure that Vance’s signature was on the thing then turned back to McGee, “what’s that all about?”
“Huh,” Tim replied, looking startled.
“McGee,” Ziva said tightly, “are you alright?”
Tim thought about it for a second, started to say yes but then just shook his head; “not really, no.”
“I asked you what that man was doing over there,” she indicated the work being done on the desk.
“The guy muttered something about security upgrades on the desk when he got here. I’m a little distracted.”
“That I can see,” Ziva smirked. “So what has you so distracted?”
“He somehow managed to kill my computer,” Tim said with a hint of whine in his voice. “I found out the obvious stuff and then went looking a bit deeper and suddenly there’s something taking over and all I was left with was a box asking for a password. And no matter what I do, I can’t get rid of the damned thing.”
“You’ve run into things like that before,” Ziva said. “Why is this time any different?”
“Because I told Abby,” Tim said, hanging his head.
“And her system is now locked as well?”
“Yeah,” Tim’s reply was barely audible.
“Interesting,” Ziva finally said. “Nothing I found indicated any sort of proficiency with computers.”
“You found out something about him?”
“A little, my sources were . . . . limited.”
“Did you call your . . . ?”
“Yes, and that is why I know what little I do.”
“I’m sorry Ziva,” Tim said finally. He could only imagine what it cost her to call her father about something like this. “So why did he give you anything? I doubt he did it out of the goodness of his heart.”
Ziva bristled a bit but acknowledged that the observation was a fair one. “Mr. Harris may have been involved in the death of someone significant, I’m supposed to determine what his role was, if any and report back.”
Both turned as there was a thud and some muted cursing from where the desk was being worked on. “Right now I just want to double check a few things,” Ziva said, turning to her desk.
Tim just nodded and then looked dejectedly back at the mess on his desk. The room was quiet for a while; quiet broken only by Ziva’s tapping away at her terminal and the sound of work and muttered curses coming from under the new guy’s desk. After about half an hour the silence was broken by the chime of the elevator. Ziva looked up as Tony got off. He looked rough, like he hadn’t slept or if he’d slept, it hadn’t been very restful. “Good morning Tony,” she called out, mostly to annoy him. But today DiNozzo just grunted and flopped into his chair and just stared blankly at his computer screen. This would have made more sense if the thing had actually been turned on. To Ziva, Tony looked like he was dealing with something he didn’t quite understand; actually he looked a lot like Tim at the moment. She thought about talking to him, but he really didn’t seem to be in the talking mood at the moment so she went back to fact checking the report that her father had sent. A few minutes later there was a flurry of banging and some mild cursing in a language that didn’t sound like English to Ziva. It did such a good job of distracting everyone that the three didn’t notice Gibbs showing up. Things quieted down and everyone went to turn back to what they had been doing when they saw Gibbs standing there calmly sipping his coffee.
For his part, Gibbs had no luck finding out anything on Alexander L Harris. None of his usual sources had coughed anything up and Tobias’ information had been sketchy at best. He’d been curious about what was going on with Harris’ desk but then he got a good look at his team and wondered if they’d collectively been hit by a bus. Ziva looked the closest to normal, but Gibbs could see the strain on her face telling him that she was dealing with things she’d rather not deal with. McGee looked like he was reading something that was familiar but that he just couldn’t quite understand; not to mention the parts of his computer that were scattered across his desk. DiNozzo simply looked like someone had just smacked him with a two by four. Gibbs wasn’t sure he’d ever seen that look on the agent’s face. “OK, what have you got,” he finally asked. McGee abandoned his dismantled laptop, picked up a sheaf of papers and started reading.
“Alexander L Harris, born December 1, 1981 in Sunnydale California; that’s the town that turned into a sink-hole in 2003. Parents Anthony and Jessica Harris, both deceased; he was a longshoreman and she clerked at a grocery store. Harris the senior had several notes in his union file about drinking on the job and from both Jessica and Alexander’s medical files; it looked like he was pretty handy with his fists. Harris stands about 6’1”, weighs around 185, had dark brown hair and brown eyes.”
“Eye,” Ziva cut in. “He somehow lost his left eye around the same time as his home town was destroyed.”
Tim just nodded his thanks to Ziva and went on. “Average grades in High School and from the notes in his jacket it was obvious his principal hated him, didn’t go to college; instead he went into construction after a series of menial jobs. Harris was named head of carpentry for Henderson Construction right before Sunnydale disappeared. Engaged to an Anya Jenkins but no record of a wedding or kids. Also it looks like she never made it out of Sunnydale, she was added to the list about a month after the event.”
“Who added her name,” Gibbs asked.
“It doesn’t say; most of the records from that situation are kind of sketchy.”
“Something to look into.”
“On it Boss.”
“So, anything post Sunnydale?”
“Very little. He spent about a month in Cleveland Ohio, after that he was in England for even less time and seems to have been in Africa for the ten years since then. There’s no credit card activity for those years and the only official paper we have are some guardianships that were issued to him concerning two young women.”
“You got their names and whereabouts?”
“Yeah, there’s a Mchumba Harris currently living in Lisbon and a Lalani Harris who died last year in Vancouver.”
Gibbs just nodded, knowing McGee would chase down all the paperwork on those girls. “Anything else?”
“Yeah, he knows one very scary hacker.”
McGee went on to explain both his and Abby’s situations while trying and failing to ignore Gibb’s growing scowl and Tony’s growing smile.
“So you were the hackee instead of the hacker, huh McGeek; that’s gotta be a bit humbling.” Tony got out before Gibbs smacked the back of his head.
“It’s unusual,” McGee finally grated out. He wasn’t used to being outclassed in cyberworld.
“Fix it,” Gibbs growled out, and then he turned to DiNozzo.
“Apparently Harris had a problem with authority figures because in addition to his principal hating him, he was implicated in over one hundred felonies before he graduated. Now he was never charged or seriously questioned, but his name showed up that many times. And we’re not talking about J-walking and that kind of thing; no, this is murder and robbery and disappearances. It is also possible that he was involved with the theft of several pieces of ordinance, including a LAWs from the armory of the 33rd regiment which was stationed in Sunnydale. The rocket may have been used later that day because there was an explosion at the Sunnydale Mall. And to cap it all off, he may very well have blown up his school at graduation. The explosion resulted in the loss of the town’s mayor, the principal as well as several students and their parents. Despite his noted difficulty with authority, Harris wasn’t even questioned and the incident was officially called a gas leak.”
“How is that possible,” Gibbs asked. He wasn’t sure if DiNozzo could answer that or not. Gibbs knew that in his heart, DiNozzo was still a cop and coming across someone who appeared that dirty would bug him on a fundamental level.
“No idea boss, my source was pretty ticked off as well. Either Harris is just that slick or he hung around with a bad crowd but just never had the guts to do anything on his own.”
Gibbs just shrugged and turned to Ziva who picked up the narrative.
“While in England Harris officially became a member of the NSWC before heading to Africa where he is their top man. As to what NSWC stands for, the best guess is New Soldier and Watcher’s Council; this replaced the old IWC or International Watcher’s Council.”
“What happened to the IWC?”
“They and their headquarters were destroyed in an explosion in London in 2003.”
“Is Harris possible for that?”
“No, he never left Sunnydale until it collapsed.”
“That we know about,” DiNozzo added.
Ziva shot the man a glare then was forced to concede that he had a point and continued. “His main base in Africa seems to be just outside of Lagos Nigeria but what is known about his travel, he’s not there much. The people who work under him are extremely loyal and all attempts at placing an agent into his organization have failed. It is probable that he has taken executive action on more than one occasion and the toppling of three different regimes’ can be tied to the actions of his group.”
“How tightly tied,” Gibbs asked.
“Tenuous at best,” Ziva replied. “But the connections are there.” She looked back down at the notes her father had sent her. “The only place he’s been reliably spotted outside of Africa is Rome. He has been there at least three times and has had one confirmed meeting with the Pope.”
“And he’s being assigned here to learn,” McGee asked.
“That’s what the director told me,” Gibbs replied, obviously not happy.
“He scares my father,” Ziva chimed in abruptly. The three men turned to look at her, not sure about what they’d just heard. “He added a personal note saying that he considered Harris one of the most dangerous men in the world,” Ziva concluded. For a second, silence reigned as all four of them considered what kind of a person would scare the leader of a notoriously ruthless organization.
“How are we supposed to figure out what this guy is up to,” McGee asked, breaking the silence.
“Well you could ask,” a new voice chimed in.