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Hired Help

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Summary: ‘Chip’ obviously is not working out well. And Abby does need the assistance, so what if she went looking for it herself?

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
NCIS > Oz-CenteredPaBurkeFR15420,143227845,40512 Feb 063 Mar 06No

Chapter One

Hired Help

By PaBurke

Summary: ‘Chip’ obviously is not working out well. And Abby does need the assistance, so what if she went
looking for it herself?

Distribution: TtH

Disclaimer: None of the characters are mine, no copyright infringement intended. Just play and more play.

Spoilers: Season Five of Buffy and after the ‘Into the Wild’ book by Christopher Golden, Season three for NCIS.

Rating: for language, adult situations

AN: I . . . have . . . no . . . control. The last thing I need is another WIP nipping at my brain. Why do the simple ideas mutate into something long and ugly?


****


"Gibbs. Gibbs. Gibbs. Gibbs."

Abby verbally assaulted Jethro Gibbs the second he stepped off the elevator. Gibbs eyed his favorite forensic pathologist warily. Abby was rather hyper for this early in the morning; she only did that if she wanted something from him. He had a feeling that he’d need more coffee very soon. There was the young male Goth standing by Kate’s-Ziva’s desk. He was talking to Ziva but watching Abby.

"Yes, Abby?" Gibbs never stopped walking toward his desk and Abby dogged his heels.

"You know how Madam Director wants me to get help in the lab and well, Chip’s not going to work," Abby started.

"I thought his name was Charles," Tony commented from the sidelines.

Abby whirled on Tony. "This does not concern you, Tony."

"Abby," said Gibbs.

"So I met Oz last night," she waved a hand at the slight Goth. "And we got to talking about database searching and ways to track and to find people. He knew all my tricks and had a couple to add and he’s familiar with most of my equipment."

"So he liked your coffin-bed?" Tony teased.

"My work equipment, Tony." Abby gave Oz an once-over in spite of her words. The tiny smile on her lips indicated that she liked what she saw. "So what if we hired Oz and then the Director can take Chip back and everyone will be kinda happy?"

Gibbs eyed the young man who seemed content to let Abby do all the talking. "So you’re saying that he’s under qualified."

Abby shrugged his concern away with a grin. "Maybe degree-wise but we came in last night to see what we could do working together with the information we have on our latest case. And," Abby pulled out a piece of paper with a flourish, "Between the dirt, the tire tracks, the type of truck used and cross-referenced against addresses that would fit the acceptable criteria . . ."

"The point, Abby."

Abby handed over the paper scrap, "We’re pretty sure that we found the address that our perp lived at before he murdered the lieutenant. It was under an alias ‘cause the Novak person who lives there doesn’t really exist. He may or may not still be there."

Gibbs snatched the paper away from Abby, barely glanced at it, while watching the young man watch him.

"DiNozzo, McGee, go check this out."

McGee grabbed the paper. Tony grabbed the keys to the Suburban. "On it, boss."

Things were quiet, oppressive for a moment after Tony and McGee dashed out the door. Gibbs stared at Oz. Oz watched Gibbs. Finally Gibbs started the inquisition. "So you know Ziva?"

Oz shook his head. "Nah, was once in the same place at the same time."

Ziva shook her head in awe. "I still don’t remember you."

"No one notices the band," he said.

"But it was years ago." Even a woman of Ziva David’s training was surprised by the acute memory.

Oz shrugged, not really down-playing his brains and his memory but acknowledging that they existed.

"Do you have a resumé?" Gibbs finally asked.

Oz picked up a business-sized envelope from Ziva’s desk and handed it to Gibbs. Gibbs tore it open and skimmed the two pages. "Daniel Osbourne. Civilian attaché to an Army Mobile Unit?" Abby looked pleasantly surprised that Oz was prepared and had viable connections.

Oz shrugged. "Friend. Foreign country. Short on cash. It worked."

"You referenced an Agent Riley Finn."

Oz nodded.

"Let’s see if we can talk to Agent Finn." Gibbs watched Oz carefully. Oz showed no signs of discomfort. He didn’t act as if he was about to be caught in a lie. Gibbs turned around and led the way to the tele-video conference room.

Abby, Oz and Ziva followed.

"I hope you didn’t lie," Abby whispered. "You didn’t need to pad your resumé. Gibbs is just checking now because you put a military reference on your sheet."

Oz smirked at her.

Ziva observed it all.

She still couldn’t get over the fact that Oz had seen her in a nightclub in Sweden two years ago and still recognized her face. He remembered the day, or rather the night, the name of the club and the color shirt she had been wearing. Ziva remembered all three facts because she had been picking up an information dead-drop and Oz had not been her contact. Who else, but someone who had been there, could know the information Oz did?

The foursome walked into tele-conference room. Gibbs stalked over to one of the controllers and handed him Oz’s resumé. "Call this number."

The controller obeyed without question.

The computers dialed the number. The silence screamed.

A voice answered on the fifth ring.

"Who the hell are you? And how the hell did you get this number?" The voice was angry and slightly confused.

Oz gently took the mike from Gibbs. "Hey, Ri," he said quietly.

The was a brief pause, then a muted fumble. Suddenly the screen in front of the NCIS agents lit up. Featured there was a young man. He had wholesome good looks underneath a couple of wicked scars. He was dirty and needed a shave. In the background, Gibbs could see a non-American forest, a jungle and men taking down tents.

The controller turned on the video feed so that Agent Finn could see Gibbs and the others. Finn’s face lit up when he set eyes on the job applicant.

"Oz!" he said. "You get tired of all the good food and dance clubs in the States and’re taking us up on our job offer? I can have you flown out here within twenty-four hours."

Oz shook his head no.

"Damn." Finn reexamined the people in the room. "Than what can I do you for?"

Gibbs waved Oz’s resumé. "Mr. Osbourne is applying for an NCIS position and listed you as one of his contacts."

Finn winced. "Navy, Oz? I could have gotten you an Army position with a hell of a lot less hassle. Like I said, dump them and come help us."

"Can’t," Oz said. "My cousin’s living with me."

Finn thought about it. "Jason, no . . . his name’s Jordy, right?"

Oz nodded.

"Fine. Bring him along. I’ll take an Oz-in-Training any day of the week. We haven’t had a tracker-slash-hacker last more than two weeks and none of them are as good as you."

Oz shook his head.

"Fine," Finn’s tone was slightly petulant. "I’d offer you double the money of last time if I thought you’d even consider it. As it is, I need two people to do what you can do."

Oz smiled and remained silent.

Gibbs stepped to the forefront. "So Mr. Osbourne has a high clearance level for a civilian? And he’s competent?"

"Yes," Finn shot back. "What do you want to know? Oz can keep his head in any situation. He can find any monster we put him close to, either electronically or through the jungle. He’s like a human bloodhound. And obviously he can keep his mouth shut. What more can you want?"

"The name of your CO," Gibbs shot back.

"Classified. Talk to the Secretary of the Army. He had to approve Oz last time we hired him," said Finn. "Oz, you lucked out. This number won’t be any good tomorrow."

Gibbs blinked. The Secretary of the Army was a big name for this youngster to be dropping. "Thank you for your time, Agent Finn."

Finn wasn’t done yet. "So are you hiring Oz?"

"I haven’t decided."

Finn nodded. "Just so we’re clear; if anything happens to Oz while he’s under your protection, I’ve got a squad of special ops soldiers that’ll rain hellfire on . . ."

Oz heard something, saw something in the background and stepped forward. "Ri! Incoming!"

Agent Finn showed his experience in that moment. He didn’t curse. He didn’t look around him to confirm. He yelled, "INCOMING!" and started to close down the connection. Before the NCIS people heard the dial tone, they heard the unmistakable sound of gunfire.

Gibbs looked from the black, empty screen to Oz. "Replay the last three minutes, no sound," he ordered.

The controller complied.

The NCIS team watched Agent Finn against the background of the jungle. They didn’t see what Oz had seen.

"Again."

Gibbs took a step forward.

"Stop."

Finn froze on the screen.

"Go back thirty seconds."

The recording skipped to the appointed place.

"Play it again at half speed."

Finn slowly talked, but no words were heard. Gibbs blinked at the screen and then turned to Abby. "You can keep him."

Abby was distracted from the frozen image long enough to give Gibbs a grateful smile. "Thanks, Gibbs."

Gibbs took back the reference page of the resumé and stalked out of the control room, leaving Abby to her new co-worker.

Abby grinned at Oz. "You’re hired!"

Oz nodded.

"I can’t believe your friend threatened Gibbs," Abby bubbled.

Oz shrugged. "Good thing he didn’t call Giles."

"He would have been threatened again?"

"Thrice."

"Three times?" Ziva clarified.

Oz nodded and waited.

Abby took the hint. "Right. We have work to do. Bye, Ziva."

Ziva David waited until Abby bounced out of the room, Oz in tow. She walked up to the controller. "Call Mossad," she ordered.

She stood patiently until a new figure appeared on the screen. "What do you remember about Agent Riley Finn?"


****


Ziva caught Jethro Gibbs as he was leaving for his afternoon coffee. She jumped unto the elevator behind him. He eyed her but said nothing.

Ziva flipped the ‘off’ switch. "You haven’t filed Oz’s resumé yet."

"You didn’t miss the black ops side of Finn any more than I did, Ziva." He turned the elevator on. "I’ll file it tomorrow." When it would be safe for Finn’s number to be on file.

Ziva flipped the switch again. "Let me look at it for two minutes."

"No." In that time, Ziva would memorize the contents. He reached for the elevator switch but a manila envelope blocked his way.

"I’ll trade you."

Gibbs looked at the envelope. "For what?"

"All Mossad has on Finn."

Gibbs doubted it was all Mossad had on Finn, but it was more than Gibbs had on Finn and probably more than what the Army would be willing to give Gibbs about Finn. Gibbs nodded in agreement. "How about some coffee?"

Ziva smiled. "I’d be delighted." Ziva turned on the elevator and stood next to him for the ride down.


****


The tale was a short and bloody one. The file contained only three written pages. Gibbs sat in a back corner of the coffee shop to read it. Ziva sat across the table reading, but then a job resumé would attract less attention from any passerby. The pictures included Gibbs’ file were graphic.

On the outskirts of a tiny village in the Gaza Strip, three families were found dead, torn apart, limb from limb. It had happened over a course of three consecutive nights. No one witnessed anything. No one heard anything. After the first night, the Army moved in. They had seen nothing even though second family had been destroyed. They increased their patrols the third night with embarrassing lack of evidence.

Of course, the Palestinians were responsible. But no one claimed responsibility. There was no event that would spark retaliation. There were no bullet holes anywhere, no kidnapping. The corpses were not desecrated in the normal manners. But something had eaten the bodies. Muslims wouldn’t consider doing such a thing.

On the fourth night, the Israeli Army patrolled the area, saturated it. Near dawn, a man, Finn had stepped out of the shadows into the command tent.

"Just wanted to tell you that we got ‘em. You won’t be having anymore trouble in this area."

Then he left and no more families died the following nights. Mossad could piece together some of the clues. He had been an American. That much was obvious by the accent and by the fact that he had helped. After a long search, they had found his name. Agent Riley Finn, US Army. No one in the intelligence community could, or would, give them an idea of what had happened that fourth night.

Mossad had never seen Finn again but they were pretty sure that he and his team had used one of their airports twice.

And that was it. Mossad had too many enemies camped on their doorstep to spend a lot of time on someone who had helped them without asking for much in return.

Small wonder they wanted to get their hands on Oz’s resumé while there was still a chance of tracking down Finn.

It gave Gibbs much to consider. About both Finn and Oz.


****

Gibbs stalked into Abby’s laboratory with purpose. Abby looked up from her worktable with a smile. Oz tilted his head, his concentration firmly on the screen. Gibbs could see three different searches being carried out in three separate computer windows. Whether or not Gibbs’ presence registered to the new employee, Gibbs was not sure. But if Osbourne had spent extended periods of time with Riley Finn, he was probably just ignoring Gibbs.

"Hey, Gibbs. What can I do for you?"

Jethro Gibbs gave Abby his full attention. "Your tip panned out. Novak was Holkem and he was in the apartment. DiNozzo and McGee have collected evidence they think will link Holkem to the straggled lieutenant." He gestured to Oz. "What is he doing?"

"Backlog."

"Backlog?"

Abby sidled to his side. "Gibbs, not even you solve all your cases. He’s researching some cases that were shoved to the back burner due to lack of evidence."

Gibbs read the parameters of one search. "You gave him Sana?"

"How would you like to catch a murdering marine?" asked Abby.

"Get me close enough and Ducky will be the doctor to give Sana his much overdue yearly physical."

"That’s what I thought." She waited until Gibbs stalked out the door before whirling on Oz. "You’re in! I get to keep you and no more Creepy Chip in my lab."

Oz gave her a half-smile and returned to his research.


****


“Weren’t you just here?” Gibbs asked the hyper forensic scientist bouncing beside his desk.

“That was to explain my first analysis of the evidence,” said Abby. “Now I’m back with what Oz found.”

“Good news?”

“How about a finger print match?”

“I thought you said that you could only find smudges with what we lifted.”

“I did. I could, but Oz found one and ran it through the databases.”

“And?”

“Our lieutenant was in the Novak apartment at one time. So they definitely knew each other.”

Gibbs snatched the paper away from Abby. “Something else?”

“Oz ran the paper through the mass spec. Gibbs, he found teeny traces of blood. You guys need to go through that place with a fine tooth comb. She might have died there.”

“Thank you, Abby. DiNozzo, go back and find where the lieutenant died.”

“You should thank Oz too.” Gibbs waved Abby away but thought about it.


****


The jibe had been sly, wry, witty and right on target. Abby stood and gawked at Oz.

Oz didn’t even slow his typing to throw a gloating glance over his shoulder. After all, he had managed to render Abby speechless. His posture hinted at his quiet amusement.

Abby responded the only way she could.

She marched over to Oz, stood within his personal space as she clipped him upside the head.

Oz stopped.

He stopped typing, he stopped breathing. His hands fisted on either side of the keyboard, so tight that his knuckles were white. The tension in the air was thick enough to cut with a knife.

Then Oz turned and looked at her. He stood. This time, he invaded her personal space. They were standing so close together Abby could see the yellow flecks in Oz’s eyes intensify in color. Somehow it didn’t matter that she was taller than Oz.

He still looked like Oz, but there was something distinctly wild about him now. Oz had never frightened her before. He frightened her now. Somehow with that realization, Oz became even scarier. Abby knew self-defense and Gibbs had augmented her training. She was quick, she was good but somehow Oz made her feel like prey.

So Abby fought back the best way she could.

With her mouth.

“It’s just a joke,” she started. “You know, joke? Ha, ha. And you’re supposed to say, ‘Thanks, boss’ like Tony does after he gets hit.”

Oz didn’t respond one way or another.

“Don’t mind him, pet,” a Cockney voice said from the doorway. “Wolf-boy is just trying to figure out whether to rip out your throat or to shag you senseless against a wall.”

A light flipped off in Oz. Suddenly he was Oz again and Abby could look away without fear of harm. Abby waited a few moments before turning her attention to the stranger. Oz sat down on his chair and returned his attention to the keyboard and the computer screen.

As if nothing had happened.

“Abby.”

“Yes, Oz?”

“You’re not Gibbs.” He opened a new Window to work in. “And Spike, I’m not you.”

“Keep telling yourself that, Wolf-boy,” the stranger taunted.

Oz ignored the stranger.

The stranger was on the shorter side as well. His hair was bleached and his fingernails were painted black.
He was Goth. He wore the leather duster with casual authority. He had worn that jacket for a very, very long time; it fit him like a glove. He, Spike Oz had called him, had an aura that screamed ‘Red Alert: Danger!’

Abby didn’t care.

Oz had just thrown her for a loop; this stranger was not about to get the best of her too.

“Where’s your visitor’s pass?” she demanded.

Spike grinned and blue eyes twinkled. “I’m a special case, luv.” He fished in his pocket for something.

Oz snorted quietly.

Abby was sure she was missing part of the conversation, probably Oz’s part that he never spoke.

Spike pulled a pack of cigarettes out of his pocket and was about to light one. Abby marched over to him and snatched the cigarette right out of his mouth. She threw it into the trashcan.

“Absolutely no smoking in this lab.”

Spike smiled slowly, dangerously. He ran his tongue over the tips of his teeth and his eyes turned yellowish too. What was it with guys’ eyes turning yellow? “I’m thinking that you do need a . . . good . . . hard . . . shag.”

What was it about guys suddenly scaring her? Guys didn’t scare her. Abby took a step backward and Spike followed.

“Tell Buffy you’re alive yet?” Oz asked as if his boss was not getting stalked through the lab.

But it made Spike stop in his tracks. Spike frowned. “The Watcher or the Weakling would have told her.”

“Would they?”

Spike thought about it for a moment and then Abby could tell from the emotions chasing across his face when he decided to stop thinking about it. He smiled back at Abby.

Abby took yet another step back. There weren’t a lot of places she could hide in her lab.

“She took red roses to the crater.”

Spike quit breathing. Abby could see hope spark in his eyes. It softened the hard lines on his face. Then the hope died. “They were for Joyce.”

“She takes those on other days.”

The hope flared out of control. “Red roses?”

“And white and rosemary and forget-me-not’s.”

Spike dismissed Abby as if she had never existed. He took the two steps to stand beside Oz. “Really?”

Oz looked up to Spike and they communicated silently.

“Why are you here?” Oz asked.

“Wolfram lost Cain. Last we knew, he was looking for you.”

Oz nodded.

“Who’s Cain?”

Both men ignored her. Their heads cocked and in unison, they looked in the direction of the elevator. From her viewpoint, Abby could tell that someone was using it from the lights illuminating the floor levels. Someone was coming down.

“Gibbs,” Oz muttered. “Bye, Spike.”

Spike blew Abby a kiss and made for the stairwell. By the time Gibbs stepped into her laboratory, all that remained of Spike’s visit was the faint smell of leather and cigarette smoke.

And the confusion in Abby’s mind.

"Osbourne, how close are you to Sana?" Gibbs asked.

"Eighteen months."

Gibbs nodded. “Abby, do you have news for me?”

Abby blinked, trying to think.

“Abby, are you okay?”

“Yeah. Yes, Gibbs. I’m fine. But no, I don’t have anything new for you.”

“Are you sick?”

Abby finally smiled. “No. Just haven’t had enough Caff-Pow this morning.”

Gibbs hmphed. “You can go home if you need to. Osbourne can cover for you.”

Abby risked a glance at Oz. He just nodded in agreement. High praise, saying that Oz could take care of the laboratory in her absence.

“Thanks Gibbs, but I’m fine. I’ll call you as soon as the results get back.”

“Good.” Gibbs stalked back to the elevator and returned to his own floor.

Abby looked around her lab, just a little lost. “Interesting friends you have, Oz.”

“Spike’s not a friend.”

“He’s still interesting.”

Oz stopped his work to look at her. “Abby.”

Abby looked back at Oz. He had her full and complete attention. “Yes?”

“Some people are sexual predators. Some use the sexual predator façade to hide something more dangerous.” Those were the most words Oz had strung together in Abby’s presence.

“Are you warning me away from Spike?”

“Yes.”

Abby finally relaxed. “Don’t worry. He’s obviously taken and he’s not quite my type.”

“Like McGee?”

Abby choked but didn’t blush.

Oz turned back to his work so apparently his part of the conversation was over.

“Hey, Oz?”

Oz didn’t answer but Abby had learned by now that it didn’t mean that he wasn’t listening.

“Why did he call you ‘Wolf-boy’?”

Oz stilled. Abby thought that he looked at little hurt but then he offered her a tight smile. “High-school nickname.”

“I sense a story behind that.”

Oz started typing again.

“But you’re not going to tell me, are you?”

“Nope.”

Abby rolled her eyes. “Fine.” She had her own work to complete as well. She had other mysteries to solve as well. The Oz-mystery could wait. Gibbs’ cases would not.


****
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