Knocking On Doors
Gibbs knocked, knowing as he did that Finn was probably already aware that he was here. An office at the Pentagon came with a few perks, one of them being excellent security on the door. Gibbs had only told the guards on the entrance that he needed to speak with Col. Finn urgently relating to a current investigation.
When the door swung open, Gibbs was surprised to see that Finn was younger than he was, by a good decade at least. Younger than usual for his rank, and definitely younger than he’d been expecting. From what Summers had said, he’d been picturing someone who looked like an uncle or a friend of her father. Finn could have been Summers’ big brother.
“Agent Gibbs. I was told it was a matter of some urgency. I assume this has to do with the incident involving Dawn Summers?”
Gibbs expression betrayed nothing.
“I’m surprised you’ve already heard. The day is young.”
“Dawn’s older sister is a close friend of mine. In fact, she’s my children’s godmother. I’ve known Dawn since she was in middle school. She called me before NCIS was even at the scene, and I sent Graham to drive her back. I wasn’t convinced she would be ok to drive, and she has a nasty tendency to downplay injuries. ”
His grimace told Gibbs more eloquently than words that said tendency had been a distinct problem at some point in the past.
“Graham? You’re referring to Major Miller.”
“Graham Miller and I have served together for a long time, Agent Gibbs. He’s not just one of the men under my command, he’s a friend.”
“You’ve served together for a long time. Would that be since Sunnydale, or before?” Gibbs asked.
Finn's expression took on a practiced neutrality.
“You must be aware that our program is classified. As are most of the assignments I’ve been on. I can’t talk about it.”
Gibbs was neither frustrated nor surprised by the answer. He’d expected it.
“I’m sure you’re a busy man, sir, so let me get right to the point. This case doesn’t look like a normal open and shut murder. Several Marines are dead, and at least three of them had been tortured prior to their death. We haven’t ruled out the possibility that Miss Summers may have been specifically targeted by the perpetrators. She is the only female victim that we’re aware of, as well as the only one who isn’t military, so you can understand we’re a little curious about why they broke their pattern. One of the last people Miss Summers met with before she drove down to Quantico was you. Your unit’s very existence is classified, and it seems like I’d have to go through SecNav if I wanted to find out what exactly it is you do.”
At Finn’s noncommittal nod, Gibbs continued.
“You say she’s a family friend. I’m guessing that’s not a secret. So I’m asking you if there’s any possibility that this attack may be connected to your unit or its mission. If there is, I need to know.”
“I suppose it’s possible there may be a connection somehow,” he said, “But nothing directly related to this unit. From what Graham and Dawn told me, I think it’s highly unlikely that the attackers knowingly targeted her. If they had, she probably would have been dead before the MPs arrived. I think it’s more likely someone was bored and spotted a pretty girl they thought wouldn’t be missed for a while.”
Gibbs knew just from the man’s body language that there was something more he wasn’t saying, but he also knew that he had no leverage to get him to say anything more. Finn’s statement that Summers would have been dead if she’d been deliberately targeted wasn’t helpful, either. It just raised more questions.
He tried a different tack.
“I reviewed what little of Major Miller’s service record is available to us, and I was wondering how it is that you’re a colonel and he’s still major. You both joined the unit at the same time. I would have thought the two of you would have risen through the ranks together.”
“By rights, Graham ought to be Lt. Colonel, and probably up for Colonel himself by now.”
“What happened?” Gibbs asked.
“An op went bad, and someone had to take the fall for it. For… political reasons, the higher ups didn’t want it to be me, so Graham got busted for something that wasn’t his fault, or anyone else’s in the unit. It was mostly a case of bad luck.”
Seeing the closed look on Finn’s face, Gibbs knew better than to push further.
“I trust you have no objection to us interviewing Major Miller and Miss Summers? We have some follow-up questions we’d like to ask them.”
“From what I hear about you, I doubt any objections on my part would stop you, Agent Gibbs. But I imagine Dawn already told you everything she can. I doubt Graham has much to add other than how cranky Dawn gets when she’s injured.”
He hesitated, then, almost as if against his better judgment, he added, “Gibbs? Be careful with Dawn. She has connections independent of this unit that go a lot higher than you might expect.”
“Yeah?” Gibbs asked, his tone making it clear that this had better not be a threat.
“Let’s just say that if you upset her, or worse, put her at risk in any way, even unintentionally, SecNav will be the least of your worries.”
“Thanks for the tip,” Gibbs said drily. “I know you’re a busy man, Colonel, so I won’t take up any more of your valuable time.”---
“Hank Summers is not my father,” Buffy said slowly, as if the knowledge were a book that she was having to fight to pull off an overcrowded shelf.
“Ok,” Willow said slowly. “So who is?”
Buffy shook her head, her face puzzled.
“I’m not sure. Like you warned, it’s not like flipping a switch. It only came to me because I was thinking of mom saying my father hadn’t seen me in a while, and I was wondering why she thought that was a big deal. And then I remembered my dad's face and realized that Hank was not my dad. I haven’t seen my dad for a really long time. He went away.”
“As in he left you and your mother?” Giles asked, plainly trying to elicit more information.
Buffy chewed her lip thoughtfully.
“No, I don’t think that was it. And I don’t think he wanted to go. He had to go… it wasn’t his call.”
“Like someone whose job takes them away from home. A pilot, maybe, or a soldier,” Xander suggested.
Buffy’s face lit up.
“A Marine,” she said decisively. “Dad’s a Marine. He was deployed. My grandmother used to yell at him every time he was sent overseas. Sometimes their fights scared me. She told him once that one day, he wouldn’t come back, and what would that do to us?”
She stopped abruptly.
“Maybe this was the time he didn't come back. But I don’t know what happened. Did he get killed while he was deployed? Did something else happen? He would never have just left us.There has to be more.”
To everyone’s surprise, it was Faith who answered.
“Yo, B, if your mom was the one who gave you the heads up about needing to open the closet door, why not ask her what you’re supposed to do now that it’s open?”
“You mean take a nap and see if I have another dream about it?”
“Sure. Maybe now the closet’s open and mom can tell you more. She’s the one who made you aware of the problem, and it sounds like she was hoping you could fix it yourself. But it wasn’t working out like she thought, Slayer alone couldn’t do it. Now that Red gave you an assist with the mojo…”
Buffy shrugged. Considered that way, it made sense. Her mom had seemed willing to try whatever it took to get the door open. Now it should be.
Abby stared at her computer screen in disbelief. There was no way this could be right. It was just too weird. It couldn’t be. If it was, Gibbs would have said something, wouldn’t he?
She’d run the DNA twice, just to be sure. According to the evidence log, the hair she’d tested should belong to either Dawn Summers’ sister or mother, who had not been present at the crime scene. The hair had been in a locket Dawn was wearing, which her attacker had pulled off and from all appearances, deliberately smashed. Whoever had collected it had decided the hair most likely belonged to Buffy Summers, based on the photo and the color of the hair. But Abby had to test it just to make sure there were no unknown parties at the crime scene…
Abby froze at the sound of footsteps behind her. No, no, no! Not now! Bad timing!
“Gibbs!” she exclaimed, whirling around and doing her best to shield the computer screen from view.
“Got something for me, Abbs?” he asked, holding a Caf-Pow in one hand that was surely meant for her in the hopes that she had found something that would make their crazy crime scene make more sense.
“Um, sort of. Maybe. I mean…”
“What, Abby?” Gibbs asked patiently.
“Well, this is really awkward to have to ask, but you don’t have another daughter, do you, Gibbs?”
She did her best to smile, but she winced as she said it, knowing it was a sore subject. If he hadn’t appeared at that moment, she’d have strongarmed Tony or Ziva into asking. The look on Gibbs’ face worried her a little- if he hadn’t always treated her like a daughter, she might have been scared.
“Is there a reason you’re asking me this, Abbs?” he said, forcing himself to stay calm.
“IranthisevidencethroughDNA-“ she began, only to be cut off.
, Abby,” Gibbs ordered, waiting until she did. “Start over- and go slower this time.”
“Ok, I took this evidence, which the label says should be hair belonging to Dawn Summers’ sister or mother, and extracted DNA samples for testing. Based on the photo, I’m fairly sure it’s the sister, not the mother. When I ran the DNA, I didn’t expect to get any matches back, because there’s no reason Dawn Summers’ sister should be in any databases, but I ran it anyway, just to be thorough, because you know how I’m always thorough. Except that I did get a match-a family match. To you.”
She looked at him expectantly, hoping he would say something that would make this somehow make sense.
“I only ever had one daughter, Abby,” Gibbs said hoarsely. “And she’s been in the ground for close to twenty years.”
Abby stared at him.
“And there’s no possibility-“
“None.” Gibbs said flatly.
“I don’t understand,” Abby whispered.
“Neither do I, Abbs. The more we dig into this case, the more questions it throws up. This one just hits a little closer to home.”---
“This just gets weirder and weirder,” McGee said. He had long since passed frowning at his computer screen. What he was doing now was more like glaring at it.
“What gets weirder, probalicious?” Tony asked, coming to lean over his shoulder. Ziva crowded in also.
“I hit a lot of dead ends doing background on Captain Miller, which isn’t too strange given that he’s involved in a highly classified special ops unit. So I started putting together background on Dawn Summers, which should have been easier. We have her details, and she didn’t seem at all worried about giving them.”
“So where’s the weird?” Tony asked.
“According to the state of California, Dawn Summers doesn’t exist. At least, she didn’t until she got her driver’s license in 2003. Before that, there’s nothing. No birth certificate, school records, not even a learner’s permit. It’s like she just appeared out of nowhere as a teenager.”
“So how did she get a driver’s license?” Ziva wanted to know. “I thought one had to show a birth certificate or passport as proof of identity to obtain a license?”
“I don’t know, maybe you can ask her about that when she comes in, which should be any time now,” McGee muttered. “She got the driver’s license, and not long after that, she was issued a US passport. But she doesn’t have a valid social security number, and there’s no record of her birth or adoption.”
“Perhaps she was born in another state,” Ziva suggested. “The family then moved to California.”
McGee shook his head.
“When I didn’t find anything in California, I widened my search. No Dawn Summers matching the one we talked to last night in any state.”
“That is strange,” Tony agreed.
“It gets weirder,” McGee told them. “I expanded my background search. I checked her sister and her mother, and ran into a similar problem. Neither of them show up before the early 90s, and records are hazy until they move to Sunnydale in 1997, at which point records are merely spotty due to losses in the Sunnydale disaster. The only official identity document for Buffy Summers-”
“Buffy?” Tony chortled.
Ziva smacked him in the back of the head, and he glared at her.
“It is not nice to mock people’s names, Junior,” she said tartly.
“As I was saying, the only official identity document for Buffy Summers is her passport, which is issued the same day as Dawn’s. She doesn’t have a driver’s license or a valid social, and there’s also no birth certificate or adoption record for her. There are no official identity documents in existence for Joyce Summers other than her death certificate and a driver’s license she obtained in 1991, which is noted as a replacement in the records, even though there was no prior license for her. She bought a house in Sunnydale in 1997, but I don’t even have an address for them prior to that. The ’91 license used a PO box.”
Now Ziva was frowning as well. She had returned to her own computer and began punching keys.
“This makes no sense. Both girls are using false social security numbers. Buffy’s belongs to a pilot missing presumed dead in 1989, and Dawn’s to a boy who died the year she was supposedly born. How has no one ever noticed they are using someone else’s social?”
Tony frowned as he too looked through what McGee had dug up.
“Both women work outside the country for a foreign corporation,” he replied, “so their employer wouldn’t have requested their socials. If all they ever used them for was college applications or after school jobs as kids, chances are no one would catch it. Colleges use the number as a unique identifier for student records, but most never validate them. A lot of employers don’t bother either, especially with teenagers who only work part time. Neither one of the Summers sisters look like someone you’d expect to be using a fake number, and even after living in England for years, Dawn sounds as all-American as they come.”
“Well it gets better. I don’t have a marriage license for Joyce, or anything at all for her supposed husband. So I pulled the Summers girls’ passport applications. Both Buffy and Dawn list Hank Summers as their father, but I can’t find any Hank Summers, or even any male with the family name Summers born on the birth date they give for him. I thought maybe they got the birthdate wrong, so I tried searching place of birth instead and came up with nothing. There is no Hank Summers.”
“Witness protection program?” Tony suggested halfheartedly.
“Doubtful,” McGee replied, as Ziva shook her head in a decisive negative. “The complete lack of information about these people before a certain date just leads to questions. Usually if someone’s been moved into the program and given a new identity, that identity looks solid on paper. These ones are a collection of red flags. It’s like someone created identities for them, but whoever did it was a complete novice.”
“What’s going on, McGee?”
The three agents jumped slightly at Gibb’s sudden appearance, as well as his acerbic tone. Usually he came back from Abby’s lab in a better mood.
“I’ve been doing the background on Dawn Summers,” McGee began.
“Let’s hear it,” Gibbs barked.
“That’s the problem, boss,” McGee said, trying not to show nervousness. “There really isn’t any. Like I was just telling Tony and Ziva, it’s like she doesn’t exist until she’s a teenager. The first official documentation on her is her driver’s license, which she got three weeks after the Sunnydale disaster. No birth certificate and no social issued for her, no school or medical records anywhere. The rest of her family is just as much a mystery. She and her sister both applied for their passports the same day she got her driver’s license. Paper trail on the sister is sketchy at best while she’s in high school, and there’s nothing before 1991 on either sister or their mother.”
“Say that last part again?”
“Before 1991, there’s absolutely nothing to show that Buffy, Joyce, or Dawn Summers existed.”
“And on that note, guess who just arrived?” Tony muttered.
Everyone’s heads swiveled toward the elevator doors, where Dawn Summers and Graham Miller had just walked in wearing visitor’s badges.
“McGee, you talk to Summers. Ziva, I want you observing. DiNozzo, you’ve got Miller.”