Title: The Golden Rule
Characters: Tony DiNozzo, Jethro Gibbs, Ziva David, Tim McGee, Jimmy Palmer
Warnings: Canon-Level Violence, Magic AU, Character Bashing, Fluff/Crack
Challenge/Prompt: Fluff Bingo Challenge 2020 Bonus Round / Gifts
Word Count: 7340
Author’s Notes: Fluff Bingo is a short story challenge from the Just Write! server on Discord. Some entries are available on AO3. Conversation on the server about glitter bombs was just as guilty for this as the gifts prompt.
Summary: When the MCRT arrests an illegal coven, a young witch leaves them a gift that is life changing.
“NCIS! Federal Agent!” Tony DiNozzo shouted as he kicked through the back door of the apothecary shop with Mossad Liaison Officer Ziva David. “Ladies, you will cease and desist your chant now!”
The coven of witches continued their ritual, a few of them glancing toward Tony and dismissing him. He drifted to the left to cover the primary practitioner and got his first clear look at Petty Officer Jean Fitzpatrick, restrained on the altar, silently struggling against her bonds as the glyphs drawn on her skin began to glow.
The room was lit only by candlelight and witch fire. The cold burning balls of flame giving an eerie glow to the proceedings in the otherwise dark storage room. Tony could see the movement of the magic as they attempted to finish what they started.
Tony glanced toward the front entrance, wondering where Gibbs and McGee were. A moment later, the door flew open, and Gibbs came striding through, McGee following with an odd grip on his weapon.
Gibbs took one look at the situation and ordered, “This coven is operating without a license and performing illegal rituals. By order of the Federal Government and the Council of Mages, you will cease all activity now.”
The chanting picked up volume and speed. Gibbs motioned McGee forward, “McGee, do your thing.”
Tony grabbed Ziva’s arm and pulled her down as he went down on one knee. She cursed in Hebrew as she pulled away from him, refusing to kneel. Well, her choice. Tony’s been here too many times before. McGee may be Council certified, but smooth he’s not.
McGee held up his weapon hand at an angle that would allow him to use his shielding talisman while reaching into his belt pouch and pulling a snap pack. As he vocalized a counter to the protective circle, Tim crushed the pack and threw down the neutralizing agent across the border. The witch fire and candles flashed, and a small concussive force knocked several of the coven out of position. Screaming poured out as their ritual backfired. Damage from the power was turned back on those standing, including Ziva, who had yet again ignored procedure.
Tony and Gibbs, who had at least had the sense to duck down behind McGee, charged forward to take down and restrain the perpetrators. McGee was left alone to catch his breath before he moved forward to release the Petty Officer from her restraints. Tony noted in passing that McGee did take care to check for confinement spells that might fight him before touching her restraints. Ziva was no help at all as she was still trying to stand and was pissed that she had been disabled. With the angry looks she was shooting McGee, Tony decided to protect his probie’s back from their little assassin.
An hour later, their victim was in the hospital recovering from her near-death experience, and Ziva was refusing treatment by a Council approved healer based on religious reasons. Crime scene techs from the Council were disassembling the altar which, thankfully released Tony and the team from the scene.
Back at headquarters, they completed reports, interrogated suspects, and completed processing. No way these were getting away with their crime. Today was the kind of day Tony loved. They solved the crime and caught the perps red-handed.
McGee drifted back into the room, his left hand wrapped, a bit of red showing above the bandage.
“So what happened back there, McGrilled?” Tony leaned back in his chair to get a better look at the man.
“It’s nothing, Tony.”
“Looks like something to me. Fess up.”
McGee sighed and looked around. Tony glanced around and saw there was no one close. He rolled his chair around the desk and over to McGee’s side. The bandage went up to his wrist.
“The building was warded.” Tim started and halted.
“Yeah, I saw when the wards went down and executed my entry then.” Tony prompted him. That much was obvious. It still didn’t explain why Tony and Ziva had made it fully into the room before Gibbs and McGee made their entrance.
“Gibbs got a little frustrated with how long it took me to bypass it.” McGee leaned the arm against the desk, gently resting it. “He doesn’t get it that magic is like electrical circuits running through matter. Bypassing a ward is like hacking a computer program while trying not to get electrocuted.”
“So, what? He makes you nervous? You know you have to be ready to work under pressure. If you need to refresh your training with the Council, I’ll support you.” Tony completely respected magic users. Tony had the sight and the ability to read the flows himself, but manipulating the forces was a whole other talent. It took him forever to convince Gibbs they needed a practitioner on the team.
“No, I don’t need a refresher, DiNozzo.”
“Hey! I’m not putting you down here.” Tony leaned in and continued seriously, “You’re good at what you do, Probie. But sometimes you hesitate, and I know Gibbs is a primary cause of that. So talk to me so I can help you.”
McGee sighed, dropped his shoulders. “I was on the last ward line when Gibbs headslapped me.”
“He touched you while you were in contact with a ward line?” Tony reared back, shocked. There are things you don’t do, and then there are things that are universally stupid.
“Yeah. I was able to stop the backlash, but it burned my hand. I’m just lucky it was on the last line, so I had diffused most of the power. Tony, what am I supposed to do?” Tim looked at Tony, and he just looked wrecked.
“Oh, boy.” Tony bit his lip thinking. “You have to put it in your report, McGee. The Council could pull your certification if you neglect to report that kind of procedural break.”
“Gibbs barely tolerates me as is. If I go reporting him, he’ll drop me from the team, Tony. I worked hard for this.” Tim responded with a whine.
“Look. You have to cover your ass. If you want to handle this in house, then put it in your file notes and in your report of the entry. As long as you report it officially, nothing says you have to fill a Notice of Breach with the Council. Write it up, and keep a copy for your records. Then let me handle Gibbs.”
A look of pure relief passed across Tim’s face. “You would do that?”
“Of course, I would.” Tony reached up and squeezed Tim’s shoulder. “Write it up, and we’ll get out of here. Palmer and I are getting dinner. Why don’t you come with us?”
An hour later, Gibbs and Ziva had returned and were working on reports. They had received an initial statement from the victim. The coven was on a twenty-four-hour hold until the Inquisitor General’s office finished their analysis of the spellwork, at which time they would face formal charges.
Tony sent his approval of Tim’s report rewrites and leaned back, waiting for Ziva to submit hers. She was still upset about how the magic touched her during the bust, and Tony was growing tired of the muttered vitriol against himself and especially McGee.
A text from Palmer informed him that Ducky and the Gremlin were on their way up to the bullpen with Abby to call it a day. With a ding, the elevator arrived. It was a little too quick for it to be Palmer. Tony looked up to see Henry, one of the security guards, escorting a very young woman toward their area. A very angry young woman.
Tony quickly stood to introduce himself. Before he could speak, she broke away from security, marched up to their team, and she slapped him. Ziva smiled in amusement while Gibbs jumped up to restrain her.
“That’s assaulting a federal officer,” Gibbs growled while putting the cuffs on her.
“You arrested them. They’re the only family I have left, and you arrested them!” She started spouting a lot of nonsense about religious freedom and violating constitutional rights. Ducky, Palmer, and Abby arrived in the middle of the outburst and just stood on the sidelines, watching the entire thing with a variety of expressions.
As Gibbs dragged her away to an interrogation room, her purse fell to the ground, and a small cloud of confetti drifted around their desks.
“What the heck is that?” Abby asked while brushing the tiny pieces of paper off her black dress.
The woman looked at them with hate in her eyes, “It’s a gift. I hope you enjoy it.” She spat out at them.
“Come on.” Gibbs turned her and led her away.
Tony pulled an evidence bag from his desk and tossed it to Ziva. “Better bag that for evidence before she claims we stole something from her.” Ziva looked ready to argue but just bagged the purse and headed down to evidence to log it.
“Oh, my Anthony. That does look like it’s going to leave a mark.” Ducky made quick work examining Tony’s face. “But luckily, no permanent damage.”
Tony sighed as he touched it, the continued stinging pain convinced him that he did not want to look in a mirror. “Better snap a quick photo, Probie, just in case.”
“OK, Tony.” McGee pulled his camera and took half a dozen photos. He looked at Tony apologetically before addressing everyone. “If everyone could just write up a quick statement of what you saw, it would help.”
Abby pushed McGee back with a pout and crossed her arms defiantly. “I’m going clubbing. You write a report.”
McGee cradled his hand against his side and sighed. “Abby, you know an incident report has to be filed. Do you want to be the one to tell Gibbs you won’t do it?”
She frowned but eventually caved and wrote a brief statement. Tim took the lead in collecting everything so that Tony didn’t touch it and left it in a file on Gibbs’ desk.
Tony was about done with his report when Gibbs called, “Yeah, Boss?”
“She’s sixteen, one of the acolytes is her mother, and two others are the rest of her family. The Council is coming to pick her up for questioning, and they will find a foster placement for her. Tell everyone to go home.”
The click signaled the end of the call, and Tony took a calming breath. And there goes Gibbs caving to emotional upset of a woman, let’s just forget that it’s Tony she assaulted. Instead of allowing himself to get all bogged down in the current feeling, he just wanted out. Now.
“OK, Boss says to pack it in. He’ll get her transferred to Council care. She’s a minor, so we’re not needed here any longer.” Tony cracked his neck and started locking up his desk.
“Should I leave the statements for Gibbs?”
“No, Probie. Keep them. Don’t know if the Council will need them later, and if they do, probably best you have them.” At least that way, Gibbs won’t just shred everything.
“Hey, Tony. You ready to get out of here?” Palmer asked from where he was sitting.
“I am so ready, Jimmy. Tim’s coming with us. His day was no better, and I think we deserve a night out.” Tony grabbed his bag and jacket.
“Oh, welcome aboard, Tim.” Palmer smiled broadly.
Tim grinned back. “What about Breena and the baby?”
“Breena’s signed up for one of those moonlight renewal sessions with her friends. Victoria is spending the weekend with her grandparents. So I’m on my own until tomorrow.” Jimmy grabbed McGee’s bag when he saw the wrapped hand. “Geez, what happened?”
It was a pretty good night, honestly. They bitched in the car about everything that had gone wrong that day, and Jimmy was a non-judgmental sounding board. In fact, he gave them the best advice of the night: follow the Golden Rule. Not wanting to ruin their night, they took his advice and enjoyed themselves.
Dinner was excellent. Their glowing compliments about the new appetizer reached the chef’s ears, and they were treated to the most scrumptious dinner any of them had enjoyed in a while. They rewarded it with praise, postings on social media, and a big tip for their wait staff.
One of their waiters made a call, and they found themselves slipped in the back door of one of the hottest new clubs in town. The energy inside was full of life and affirmation. The dance floor was a writhing mass, high on the good feels. McGee pointed out the rune work around the place that reinforced peace, happiness, and a good time. It supported the ambiance without forcing anything on the guests. That kind of magic was costly and only possible by a master.
Tony allowed himself to sink into that feeling himself and just throw off the stress of the day. Palmer let loose himself, though he was quick to hold out his wedding band to anyone who got handsy. Tim, on the other hand, was a mess on the dance floor. Tony laughed out loud every time Tim blushed when he was hit on. People had a thousand come-on lines for magic users. You would think the man would know them all by now. McGee really needed to get out more.
Being tired, they only lasted a couple of hours before they had to beg off all the potential partners. As the trio walked back to their car, they passed a couple of homeless, one wearing only a sweater. They couldn’t have been more than 18 and were obviously new to the streets. The temperature was dropping, and there was going to be snow before morning.
Slipping out of his winter coat, Tony passed it over to the sweater-clad teen. “Hey, man. It’s going to be too cold tonight to stay out. There’s a shelter about a mile that way.” He motioned behind them.
The young man traded a look with his friend before he took the coat hesitantly and shrugged. “Shelter’s full.”
Tim unwrapped his scarf, and Palmer pulled out his gloves and passed them to Tony. Pulling the cash from his wallet, Tony handed it over with the items. “There’s an all-night diner around the corner. Tell them Tony sent you and they’ll let you hang out in a booth until morning. That should be enough for a couple of good meals and coffee tonight. Ask for Joanne, and she will hook you up in the warm corner. Be polite; she works hard.”
“Thanks, man.” The men turned in the direction of the diner and started walking. Tony sent a text to the manager, Joanne, to let her know to expect them. She’d recognize Tony’s jacket and keep an eye on them. If they minded their manners, she would be babying them all night.
As the designated driver, Jimmy drove back to Tony’s. On the way, he stopped at a convenience store for a fill-up and some coffee.
“Wait, tonight’s the big Witching Hour PowerBall drawing. I need to get a ticket.” Tony got in line and grabbed a card to fill out his numbers.
“You didn’t get one yet? It’s $1.3 billion.” Jimmy stared at him, confused.
“I never get it until the day of the drawing. It’s not lucky to get it before.” Tony explained.
“Well, there’s only ten minutes left to get one,” Jimmy remarked while watching Tony select his numbers.
Tony was next up when he pulled out his wallet. His wallet with only one dollar in cash. “Damn.” He started searching his pockets—no change. He looked back. “Can I borrow a couple of dollars?”
Jimmy winced and reached into his pocket. He quickly counted out ninety-five cents in nickles, dimes, and pennies. “Sorry, I put everything in Victoria’s piggy bank every day.”
Tim came up in line with his coffee. Tony looked back, “McGee, got any cash I can borrow to buy a ticket?”
“I don’t play the lotto,” Tim replied.
“It’s over a billion dollars. Don’t you want a chance at that?” Jimmy asked.
“I graduated from MIT. I can calculate the odds. The best way to make money is not to waste it on that.”
Tony exchanged looks with Jimmy. “Come on, be a pal. I just need a dollar and a nickel.” They gave him puppy-dog looks, and Tim caved.
“Fine.” He dug into his wallet and pulled out the money, handing it to Tony.
“I’ll pay you back on Monday.”
“Don’t worry about it. Just put us down to split it if you win anything.” Tim said as he stepped up to the next register to pay for his coffee.
“Sounds fair.” Tony accepted his ticket and kissed it before slipping it into his wallet.
They ended up crashing at Tony’s, and while he didn’t usually invite people into his home, it was a very relaxing, fun night. Just a group of guys hanging out. No talk of work by unspoken agreement. It had been a while for all of them, and it was nice. Tony was especially pleased to see how well Tim and Jimmy were getting along outside of work.
The phone call at seven a.m., however, was not appreciated. Neither were the demands from Gibbs to get their asses into the office. There was a brief moment of worry before Tony remembered that they weren’t on call.
“Shoot, I knew we shouldn’t have had anything to drink last night.” McGee was rushing out of the shower to dress.
“Chill, McWorry. We’re not on call. We didn’t get drunk. We had a couple drinks, and like responsible adults, had the sober driver bring us home. If Gibbs demands we go into the field, then I’ll deal with it. We are supposed to be off rotation until Tuesday. So, we did nothing wrong.” Tony slipped his leather jacket over his jeans and sweater. They weren’t on call, Gibbs gave no reason for the call in, and it’s Sunday, so there’s no reason to dress up.
Jimmy dropped them off at the Navy Yard gates and headed out to pick up his daughter. He offered to drive them to the building, but Tony declined. He wanted the time it would take to walk to wake himself up and center both of them before seeing Gibbs. Tony encouraged Tim to slow down. He wasn’t in a hurry to find out why Gibbs was calling them in. That call had interrupted the start to a wonderfully relaxing weekend, and he wasn’t willing to let Gibbs’ attitude get to him before he found out the reason for the call.
The walk did the job of letting McGee refocus. “Tony, thanks for last night. It was nice to just hang out like that.”
He grinned at Tim. “Same here. I had fun. We need to make that a regular.”
They reached the NCIS parking lot and noticed that in addition to Gibbs and Ziva, Abby’s vehicle was in the lot along with Ducky’s.
“Wow, it looks like we were all called in. What do you think it is?” Tim winced as he grabbed the door handle with the wrong hand.
Tony shrugged. “Don’t know, but as long as Ducky’s here, you should have him recheck the hand.”
“I will. Thanks for the concern.”
“Can’t let my favorite McMage suffer, can I?”
They stopped to show ID and sign in. “Henry, how’d you get stuck on duty today? I thought you and the wife were headed to the inlaws.” Tony handed the pen to McGee.
Henry grinned. “My mother in law won a spa day. Mary ran down to join her for a mother-daughter day. I switched with Michaelson. My brother is coming up tomorrow, and his boss gave him Redskins tickets for Monday night. Fifty-yard line.”
“No way. I’m jealous.” Tony exchanged a high-five with Henry. “Have fun. We got a call in from Gibbs.”
“Ouch, about that…Gibbs came storming in here with David; they were both pissed off. Ms. Scuito showed up and ran into the elevator after him. He was yelling something about being late and his office when the doors closed.”
Tony sighed and grimaced. “Thanks for the heads up, Henry.”
They started to move, and Henry reached out. “No…it’s just…the elevator stopped.” Henry rubbed the back of his neck.
Tony exchanged a look with Tim as they said together, “Gibbs.”
“Yeah, but that was over an hour ago. They’re stuck in there. Maintenance has called in the elevator company, but they’re taking their time because of how often Gibbs has abused the elevator.” Henry smiled. “I suggest you take the stairs.”
Tony gave him a two-finger salute, and they headed for the stairwell. They opened the door to their floor to see Ducky sitting at Gibb’s desk.
“Ducky! Just hanging around?” Tony smiled as he dropped his bag by his desk.
“Anthony, Timothy, the two of you are looking in good spirits this morning. I take it your night out with Mr. Palmer went well?” Ducky inquired.
“Oh, yeah. It was great. We went to Pantino’s and the new chef is awesome. You have to try it. Afterward, it was clubbing, and then we crashed at my place. Palmer was headed to the inlaws’ to pick up Victoria this morning. Wanted a little Daddy time before Breena gets home.” Tony secured his firearm and sat down.
“It was a lot of fun, Ducky.” Tim opened his drawer and hissed as his hand brushed against the side.
“Come here, Timothy. Let’s have a look at that.” Ducky held out his hand until McGee caved and walked over to let Ducky see it. He turned it over to look at both sides before clucking. “There’s no skin breakage, so I think it will be fine without a bandage, but you need to keep it clean and avoid using it. Use that salve the Council recommends. I still don’t understand how you were so careless. You are normally very careful with ward structures. I remember when I was treating young acolytes at the….”
Tony took in Tim’s tense shoulders and interrupted, “So, Ducky. Any idea why we’re in on our day off?”
“Well, Madame Director is currently meeting with some Mage Council representatives. I believe Jethro has more details; however, as you might have noted, his misuse of the elevator has finally caught up with him.” Ducky’s eyes twinkled a bit.
Tony raised an eyebrow. “You are in a good mood, considering.”
“I am. Though I should wait to discuss it, I had a most agreeable call yesterday evening. You may not be aware, but I have been working on a memoir as well as an academic textbook. It’s a training resource on identifying magic in forensics for medical examiners. It’s titled Murder by Magic.” Ducky grinned.
“That’s great, Ducky. I’ve thought of finding a publisher for my work as well. Though, recently, I’ve rethought some of my characterizations. I think I may have hit a little too close to home, so I have a lot of rewrites in my future. But congratulations, that’s a huge achievement.” Tim was practically gushing.
“Thank you, Timothy. I wish you well on your own plunge into the publishing world. As for myself, well, an old friend was asked to review the manuscript, and I dare say he contacted me immediately. I’ve been offered an opportunity to teach next term.”
Tony smiled while thinking, “Where would you be teaching?”
Ducky returned the smile, “The University of Edinburgh, though there is tentative talk of a guest lecturer program with a few of the other Medical Schools in the U.K.” The smile dropped slightly, “I will miss you all terribly, but I am excited to have this chance to share my experience with the next generation of practitioners.”
The feeling was a bit bittersweet but tempered by the knowledge that Ducky was happy. “I wish you only the best. You deserve the opportunity, Duck. No reason we can’t still talk, and I expect the chance to visit and see the sights.”
“Of course. Of course, Anthony.” Ducky stood up and gave him a quick hug.
Their attention was pulled to the men gathering around the elevator. One was on a radio while the other two were using tools to wedge open the elevator door. It finally opened to show the top half of the elevator. A squawk of the radio and the guy in charge called out, “Hold it!”
They put the wedges in the door, and he leaned down to speak to the people inside. “We’re going to need to close you back up here. The winch is malfunctioning, so we can’t chance pulling you up any further. We’re going to take this down to the ground floor. Don’t worry, we’re doing this slow and easy, but it shouldn’t take much more than another hour.”
An angry slew of Hebrew issued forth, and hands slammed down on the floor in front of the elevator. “Get me out of here, now! I demand this.”
“It’s not safe while the elevator is in this position.” He tried to explain, but Ziva was obviously being boosted from inside the elevator.
“Just do it,” Gibbs ordered from inside. Yup, Boss is angry.
Maintenance quickly jumped in to pull Ziva through the opening. They barely had a moment to think before she shoved them off and rolled to her feet, stalking off toward the restroom. Tony moved forward to help as Abby awkwardly tried to follow her. The elevator guy was still arguing against the danger as Gibbs reached up to pull himself halfway through the opening. A loud snapping sound rang out a moment before the elevator shifted, and the sounds of the brakes engaged. Two of the men grabbed Gibbs by his outstretched arm and jerked him out of the way as the elevator fell.
“Oh My, Jethro. Are you OK?” Ducky rushed forward to check him over. At a wince, Ducky curtailed him from standing. “You will let me check you over, or I will order an ambulance immediately.”
“I’m fine, Duck.” Gibbs stopped struggling but sat up.
Ducky checked him over and then sighed, “I’m afraid treatment is in order. I fear there may be damage in this shoulder.”
“It’s nothing, Duck. I don’t have time now.” Gibbs insisted tightly.
“Well, you will most certainly make time.”
“What’s going on down here?” Director Jenny Shepard called out from the stairs down from her office.
“Damn elevator almost killed us,” Gibbs growled.
“Ma’am, my men are already inspecting all of the other elevators for damage. I’ve contacted my company, and they have an independent investigator in route to gather evidence for examination to find out if there was a fault in the system.” The Elevator guy stated before backing up again.
Abby started signing like crazy. Big and crazy. “What is wrong with Ms. Scuito?”
“She’s upset about the elevator,” Gibbs replied. Gibbs watched more of the signing before responding to it with one arm held against his chest, obviously in pain. “She lost her voice last night. She got mad and yelled at the guy letting people into some new club, and he banned her from entry. Then somehow, she lost her voice.”
Tony watch him give her a sign that he recognized as not now and turned back to them just as Ziva returned from the restroom looking worse for wear. He noticed the beginnings of a black eye forming, and her soaked shirt down the entire front.
“What happened to you?” The question slipped out before he could stop himself.
“The women’s room was closed, so I used the men’s. The incompetents inside took issue with my entrance and complained. I do not know why. I had no interest in the urinals. When I was leaving, one of the sinks broke loose from the wall, and I slipped on the water.” Ziva responded on her way to her desk to grab her go-bag. She pushed through three people with Mage Council badges on their shirts as she passed.
“Ms. David?” One of them started, “We need to speak with you.”
She glanced at the badges and haughtily turned her back. “I don’t recognize your authority to talk to me about anything. In Israel, we don’t allow your kind to exist outside of State ownership.”
The man jerked back as if burned while the other two glared at her. McGee looked sick at his desk, and his shoulders folded inward. Ziva snatched her bag off the ground and lost her footing. She went stumbling backward until her feet went out from under her sending her back. She bounced off a file cabinet and was thrown forward where her face hit the desk before she fell to the floor unconscious.
Ducky ran to her side, “Oh my dear Ziva, you brought that on yourself. It looks like that is a broken nose.” He looked up. “Would someone call the EMTs, please? This will need to be treated.”
Director Shepard looked around in shock. “What happened to her?”
Gibbs shrugged and then winced and held still. “LEOs were supposed to raid her neighbor’s apartment, hit hers by mistake. Instead of talking it out, she fought them. She was arrested, and I had to spend half the night straightening things out. They would call things off with an apology, but she put five of them in the hospital, so they’re still deciding if they’re gonna press charges.”
Abby started signing again, and Gibbs waved her off. While they were waiting for the EMTs, Tony noticed the three mages had backed up from the group, and one of them was casting. McGee was watching them confused and then looking around like he saw something no one else could.
Tony closed his eyes a second and focused on lowering the mask he wore that blocked the sight. When he opened his eyes, he saw a reddish-purple light glowing in and around them all. Ducky, McGee, and himself were purple and headed toward a more blue tint. Abby was a purple with red streaks throughout, Gibbs red-streaked in purple, and Ziva was almost entirely red. What the fuck was that?
Tim sat down carefully at his desk, and Tony moved to sit on the top of the desk in front of him. “What is that?” Tony whispered.
Tim opened his mouth to answer when the mages moved in front of Tim. Without speaking, one of them held out a hand. Tim carefully extended his injured hand, and they ran a quick spell over it that Tony recognized as pain relief. Not something Tim could place on himself.
“We have examined all of the reports and evidence regarding your arrest of the Mirelen Coven. You did well, Mr. McGee. We would have preferred you submit a Notice of Breach of Protocol with the Council, but we understand your situation. You did note the breach on your report, so that is sufficient for now.” The dark-haired mage said while his team flanked him. Tim nodded and gave a slight sigh in relief. “We have kept a close eye on your progress here. You were one of ten trainees we certified to operate in law enforcement as test cases, and that test is now at an end. We are not unaware of the regularly increasing incidents of the abuse of magic you are pressured to perform. It is a sign of your strength of character that you have bent when you could but have never broken your oaths.”
“Thank you. Honestly, I have to credit Agent DiNozzo with help as both a sounding board and as someone who runs interference on my behalf and supports my decisions.” Tony looked down a moment in shock at the praise before raising his eyes to meet the mage.
“We are well aware of Agent DiNozzo’s character and skills. We want to speak to both of you. It is the Council’s decision that a new department of Magical Law Enforcement will be created to investigate crimes involving magic. Those officers will either serve within one of the teams or as liaison officers to law enforcement branches. Our test has proven that they should not be answerable directly to existing law enforcement.
Agent McGee, you will be reassigned to this agency following a six-month course at the end of which you should earn the title of Acolyte. Agent DiNozzo, we would like to offer you a supervisory position with a team of ten. Perhaps you would be willing to meet with us on Tuesday to review the offer in more depth? If it helps you make a decision, we have enlisted Tom Morrow as the Director of the Department as it will be authorized under the Department of Homeland Security.”
Tony opened and closed his mouth a couple times in shock before just nodding. Morrow is honestly the only reason he would consider leaving NCIS. He decided any questions could wait until Tuesday because that was one meeting he was keeping. Instead, he focused on the issues in front of him. “Are you able to explain to us what is happening?” He motioned to the auras around them.
Gibbs glared in their direction. “What do you mean, what’s happening, DiNozzo?”
“Yes, Agent DiNozzo. I believe we can shed some light on your current circumstances. Yesterday a young woman by the name of Constance Delaney entered this building. She released a Karmic Curse in this area.” Tony blanched, and McGee took some deep breaths beside him.
“I didn’t feel anything…” McGee started before the mage reached out and touched his hand.
“Remember your training. Burning or stinging pain masks this branch of curses.” McGee winced and nodded, understanding. “What we would like to know is why a sensitive didn’t feel the curse settling.” This time he looked at Tony.
Tony shook his head because he had no clue, but McGee suddenly straightened up and pulled open his desk drawer. “The assault.” Tony took a quick breath and touched his face as McGee pulled out the file folder and handed it to the mage. “Here are statements from everyone present. Well, everyone but Agent Gibbs. She slapped Tony the moment she walked in.”
“Thank you for your due diligence.” He handed the folder to one of the other mages and turned back to the team. “The curse is relatively low powered. It should run its course in the next few hours. I suggest everyone be careful about your actions and motivations until such time as it wears off.”
“What is a Karmic Curse, and why the hell won’t you remove it?” Gibbs growled.
“It is a relatively simple curse that few casters would dare attempt due to the consequences. It takes the actions and intent of the victim, multiplies it, and pays it back on the victim. Good acts with good intentions are rewarded. And the reverse is punished. Simple; however, the final results are paid back on the caster. Therefore if only good is received by the victim, then the caster will pay the price of falsely cursing someone. We are holding Miss Delaney to assure she lives through the experience.”
“That’s not acceptable.” Gibbs’ eyes flared as he moved aggressively in front of the Mage. “You need to remove it.”
“Removing it is not easy, and the person trying to counter the curse is at risk of the magic recentering on themselves. Your awareness of the curse negates it anyway as you can now focus your energy on thoughts and actions that will be rewarded. So, there is no reason to be concerned. The curse only has twelve hours remaining. We would like to take you all into the Center for observation until the curse runs its course.” The Mage responded, raising his hands outward to make a calming gesture.
“No.” Ziva’s pain-filled voice choked out through the blood from her nose. Now awake and belligerent. “I will not submit to your kind.”
“That is your choice.”
Gibbs spun around and pushed Tim’s chair back with him in it. “Remove the curse, McGee.”
“Um, I can’t do that, Boss.” Tim’s eyes were saucers.
Gibbs leaned in menacingly over McGee, and Tony winced at the poor behavior in front of the Mages. Feeling for the position Gibbs was placing McGee in, Tony reached over to put a hand on Gibbs’ shoulder to stop him, forgetting that Gibbs had injured his shoulder.
At the first wince, Tony quickly released him with an apology on his lips. Abby stormed up to Tony and let loose with a kick toward his groin. Luckily for Tony, not so much for Abby, her heal broke, and her momentum knocked her back on her ass with a silent scream of pain. Gibbs, unfortunately, reached out to try to catch her, and a loud popping noise was heard in his injured shoulder before his pain-filled cursing filled the air.
There was one pristine moment of shock before Ducky, and one of the Council Reps moved in to assist. Tony could hear Rick Balboa, one of the team leads in the area next to them, calling 911 for an ambulance. Within ten minutes, two ambulances arrived, and crews were assessing Ziva, Abby, and Gibbs for transport, all three of them fighting it every step of the way.
Tony also noted that FBI Agent Tobias Fornell had arrived with his own team and was quietly watching the show. He sidled up to the group when he realized he had been noticed.
“Well, DiNoteso, it looks like Jethro has been playing Three Stooges with his team.”
“Fornell. Now’s not a good time. Why don’t you take your playmates and go back to your sandbox?” Tony said with a little smile to hide his grimace.
“Where’s the fun in that?” Fornell looked like a fox in a hen house. “We’re just here to pick someone up.”
“It better not be me,” Tony muttered under his breath.
“Not everything is about you, DiNozzo,” Fornell said and shrugged when Tony gave him a surprised look at the correct pronunciation of his name.
The ambulance crews were strapping down Ziva and Abby, both of which needed evaluation for possible back or neck injuries per Ducky. Gibbs was seated in a chair, and they had affixed a temporary brace to support his shoulder, but he should be fine to walk to the ambulance with help.
The moment Ziva was ready to go, Fornell and his team stepped forward to surround the stretcher. “Ziva David, you are under arrest on suspicion of espionage.” The FBI team surged around Ziva to slap handcuffs on her and lock her to the stretcher. Fornell motioned two of them to ride with her and then proceeded to read her her rights.
Protests and cursing erupted as Fornell openly smirked. Tony reached out and put a hand on Tim’s shoulder more to keep himself in place that to restrain Tim. The Director was demanding answers, and Gibbs was threatening retribution.
“You should police your own before you threaten others, Jethro,” Fornell said as two of his people started unplugging Ziva’s work computer. He handed a warrant to the Director with a smile. “When the police raided her apartment last night, they found an open computer with top-secret files in plain sight while rendering aid to the officers she disabled. The Bureau took the referral, and I was just so happy to help you out and take over the case when they called it in, Jethro.”
The cursing increased in volume as the Director yelled for her assistant, Cynthia, to call Legal. Gibbs tried to reach for Fornell and doubled over in pain. Tim stood up and slowly moved to put his desk, and the Mage Council reps between himself and the action. Tony thought it was probably the smartest thing he had ever seen his probie do. He seriously considered following him when Gibbs started calling for DiNozzo to get off his ass and do something.
It was into the chaos that Jimmy Palmer arrived with little Victoria Palmer in one arm and a newspaper in his other hand.
“Tony! Did you see it?” Jimmy ran past the ruckus like it wasn’t there.
“Palmer, it’s not really family time here now.” Tony tried to move the man away from the action, not wanting Victoria near the potential for violence in the air.
Palmer didn’t give him a chance and just shoved the paper in his face. “Your numbers, Tony. Aren’t those your numbers?”
Tony paused and looked down at the paper with a headline of Billionaire in DC! One winner of last night’s Witching Hour PowerBall drawing wins the largest lotto in the country. And there, in print, were his numbers.
Jimmy had the biggest smile. “Can you believe it? You won!”
McGee was suddenly staring over his shoulder. “You won? Do you know the odds of you winning?”
Tony stared a moment longer at the paper before looking up into Palmer’s face and felt a matching grin on his own face. “No, I didn’t win. We won.” He reached out and took Victoria from Jimmy and held her up. “Do you hear that, Miss Victoria? We won!”
She let loose with a joyful shriek as Tony started dancing around with her. The four of them were lost in their own world, forgetting entirely about the drama in the bullpen.
“Agent DiNozzo!” Director Shepard yelled at Tony angrily. “I would appreciate it if you could focus on the issue in front of us.”
Tony looked around and realized that he was one hundred percent done with the crazy that was NCIS. “I don’t know what you expect from me, Director. As I recall, my team is off rotation and not due back until Tuesday. Ziva’s legal difficulties can be easily remedied by allowing the FBI to audit her computer. Once they verify that she wasn’t accessing classified files outside the duties of her job, she will be cleared of the espionage charge. Any actions we take could be obstruction. You don’t want that, do you?” And that barely hidden wince says the good Director isn’t confident in Ziva’s innocence. “If they are basing their case purely on computer evidence, then we just have to wait for the search to exonerate her.”
Tony looked back toward the EMTs, who were nervously waiting to move their patients. And, Ducky, who looked like he was sucking on a lemon while continuing to berate Gibbs and Abby for exacerbating their injuries. “And while I am concerned about the health and welfare of my coworkers, it is most definitely not a work-related concern. Furthermore, there are no actions I can take, other than encouraging the emergency workers to avoid further delays in transporting them for treatment.” He nodded to Ducky, who was squashing a grin.
Turning back to look at Director Shepard, Tony bounced Victoria on his hip. “Therefore, Madam Director, I believe the only issue I should focus on is getting out of the way so the good people here can do their jobs.” He looked to the side, where Jimmy Palmer was staring wide-eyed, and Tim McGee had his mouth hanging slightly open. “Come on, guys. I think we need to clear out. I’ve got a frat brother who’s a tax attorney and owes me.”
He looked back toward the team wounded and said with sincerity. “Honestly, guys, I hope you are all OK, and I wish you all the best. Just cooperate, Ziva, and I’m sure this entire mistake will be corrected with an apology.”
The EMTs were carefully headed for the closest stairwells since the elevator was out. So Tony led his little band toward the back stairs. As they opened the stair doors to leave, he heard the EMTs call out, “Miss, calm down. If you don’t stop moving, we’re going to drop…LOOK OUT!”