The Mile High City Affair
ATF crossover with "NCIS"
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THE CLARION NEWSPAPER OFFICE
FOUR CORNERS BUSINESS DISTRICT, DENVER, CO
"Nathan!" Mary smiled warmly as her friend came in. She promptly saved her document on the computer and turned to the two men. "Ezra. This is a surprise. What can I do for you?"
"Mary, pack up your laptop and the files you're working on now," Nathan replied in a no-nonsense, serious tone.
"Ms. Travis, where are your Hopewell files?" Ezra asked, looking around.
"I'll get them," Mary cut in, looking concerned but confused as she headed to the filing cabinet to look for her records.
Ezra powered down her laptop and folded up the cord. "Ms. Travis, I strongly recommend you bring more work than that. You will be working from an extra desk in our office for an indefinite period."
The reporter frowned, and the two men instantly recognized Mary's "stubborn" look. It was as identifiable as Chris' glare--usually because they happened together. Chris would order her not to do something, and Mary would protest...and then he would glare and she would get her "stubborn" look.
Nathan sighed to himself. They really ought to explain these things to her, but there wasn't much time. "Mary," he said quietly, turning to her. "Mary, this is important. We think Hopewell's coming back."
The stubborn look got even more entrenched. "We've been saying that since he left Colorado."
Ezra got up to help support his friend and colleague. "Ms. Travis, many people believe the former governor has hired someone to take a hit out on you, and we have reason to believe he has already arrived in Denver," he replied as gently as he could. There really was a reason the six men usually left the fiery widow for Larabee to deal with: he was the only one with the temper to match hers, when someone ruffled her feathers, and--
"'Many people'? Special Agent Chris Larabee counts as 'many people'?" came the retort.
--because Larabee was the one who usually ruffled Mary Travis' feathers. "Many people," Ezra reiterated, wondering what entertaining, spectacular fight would happen when they returned to the office. "Honolulu police, FBI, and NCIS, who is here right now."
"NCIS?" Mary looked puzzled. "Why them?"
"Because the missing is a Marine sniper," Nathan replied. "Mary. This is serious."
She looked at both quietly, then nodded.
"He looks like he did enough while he was in office," Kate commented as the ATF finished going over Hopewell's history as Colorado governor.
"He was pretty popular," Josiah conceded.
"So what about the case?" Gibbs replied impatiently.
The older ATF agent and profiler merely smiled in amusement, biting back his patience comment. It never worked with any of his teammates, so why should it work with Gibbs? He turned to the large flat-screen in the bullpen and clicked the remote. Two photos came on. "The man on the left was the sheriff of Dry Springs County, and the fellow on the right was the mayor of Kettleston. They were the first two victims."
"Dry Springs? Kettleston? Where're they?" DiNozzo asked, frowning as he examined the Colorado map.
"Dry Springs is over on the west side, and Kettleston's a piss-ant little town that isn't worth much," Buck replied. "But they were really big advocates for the extension of land rights or something, and the governor was opposed."
"So he killed 'em?" McGee asked in disbelief.
"Our sources tell us that he probably had five victims in mind at the time," Josiah cut in. "Ms. Travis makes #3."
"And the other two?"
"We don't know who they are, only that at the time, there were supposed to be five."
"Any guesses?" Gibbs asked.
Josiah clicked the remote again. "Alicia Dowdey, Dale Sheldon, Daniel Myrick, Katrina Fasol. Chief of police in Colorado Springs, retired chief of police in Colorado Springs, head of DEA Team 3 located here in Denver, and the dean of University of Denver, respectively."
"You can add Brian Crowell to the list," Larabee added shortly in a tone that seemed more obligatory than out of any great concern for the man.
"Reporter for the Clarion," JD supplied. "Mary's coworker. He wrote an article that said Hopewell was behind the shootings. Plus he said there were potential other vicims; the name of Katrina Fasol came to us from him. The Governor was mad."
"He sued the pants off the Clarion," Buck replied.
Josiah then called up another screen. "These are the shooters from last time. This is--"
"--Lucius Stutz," breathed Ducky from the side. He didn't seem to notice when Josiah stopped in surprise and all the agents looked at him. "Orin, is that Stutz? You caught Stutz?"
Orin nodded, a small smile creasing his face. "That is Stutz, but I wouldn't say we caught him."
"What?" JD finally blurted for all of them, unable to hold in his curiosity any longer.
"Lucius Stutz's victims came across my table with a frightening regularity," Ducky replied darkly. "Same modus operandi each time--a bullet between the eyes. Orin and I tracked him for so long, but he was always one step ahead of us. He only ever missed once--the young woman moved just in time but still felt the bullet pass right over her; it lodged in the wall right behind her head."
The ATF agents turned in wonder to Travis. "You didn't tell us this," Buck replied.
"He told me," Larabee replied, cutting off the questions.
"Stutz's boy" Ducky pointed at his one eye "had an accident. Rumor was it that he lost an eye and replaced it with a glass one. We were concerned. Stutz was training him to take over 'the family business,' and that dead eye would only help him focus better."
"That's for sure," Josiah nodded. "He and his father were working together on this last case. Stutz Senior died of old age while on the job."
"And the younger one?" Ducky asked.
"We had him surrounded," Chris bit off, his anger barely suppressed as he recalled what happened. "He reached for his gun and one of Hopewell's men shot him with that stupid excuse he was reaching for his weapon."
"We didn't get who hired him, obviously," Buck finished.
"The Stutzes were here in Denver?" Ducky asked, surprised.
"You didn't work in Denver with Director Travis?" Ezra replied with a question.
"No. We worked in New York," Travis replied. "Stutz got his start there. Because we were the first on his tail, when he went national and started taking out victims across the country, Ducky and I started flying cross-country to investigate."
"That's how you're buzz with coroners all over," Tony commented.
"How did you realize it was the Stutzes who were on the Hopewell job?" McGee asked.
"Jones," Travis replied for the team, turning to Ducky with a twinkle in his eye.
Ducky blinked. "Liver-eating Jones?" he asked in surprise. At his old friend's nod, Ducky shook his head, chuckling. "It seems you work better without me, Orin. Stutz and Jones?"
Travis just laughed and shook his head. "I'm afraid we didn't catch Jones, either," he replied to Ducky before turning to the others and explaining, "Jones was an old sniper from our days. He and Stutz."
"For awhile we attempted to play one off the other through undercover agents and through informants. Jones never missed a shot, and Stutz had," Ducky continued. "How did you...find Jones?"
"He came to Denver," Travis replied. "By the time the boys found him, he had not touched a gun in over a year. He got converted. 'Got religion,' he said." At Ducky's shocked expression, Travis just laughed. "That was my reaction, but Mr. Sanchez here keeps reminding me that 'the Lord works miracles.'"
Ducky chuckled as he nodded to the profiler. "This certainly would count as one."
"Jones has been an consultant for us ever since," Travis continued. "He's been able to identify several old-timers just from the victim. Some of the new-fangled snipers have different MOs, but he's managed to tie together disparate victims to one killer. He's quite a help."
Ducky just shook his head, a smile touching his features before waving at the teams. "Please, continue. Orin and I will continue our nostalgic reminiscing later."
"Tell us what you have," Travis nodded to the NCIS team.
"Gunnery Sergeant Michael Garcia. He went UA a few days ago. The MPs went searching for him but didn't find him. They pulled articles off his hard drive, all from the Hopewell case." Tony held up a photo. "This is a picture of Garcia at the airport. He bought a ticket from Hawaii to Denver four days ago--paid cash. His bank accounts showed no sign of activity. We're here to find him."
"That's it?" Buck asked doubtfully. "That's all you got on your guy tying him to Hopewell?"
"You have to understand," interjected Ezra in as conciliatory a tone as possible. "Governor Hopewell has had every private lawyer in this state work for him at one point, and he is quick to sue for libel. Before we go public on anything, we would like to--well, have pictures of Hopewell personally shooting the victim to support our story. Or indelible video coverage."
"He brings a whole new definition to 'lawyering up,'" JD complained.
"What does Garcia do?" Larabee asked.
"Garcia is a Marine sniper," Kate replied. "He joined the Corps about twelve years ago. He was so good at what he did that within two years of his joining the Corps, they sent him to sniper school and then brought him back as an instructor. He had wiped his laptop, but we pulled the information from it. He had several maps of Denver from an aerial view--rooftop, high windows, vantage points, the whole thing. He also had almost every article on the web about the case."
"He's training instructors, now, too, and is a member of the advisory board for the Marines' rifling makers," Tony added. "He's used most rifles known to man and then a few we don't know. In a pinch, he's been teaching brush-up courses for federal law enforcement." The NCIS agent pushed a file over to Larabee.
Chris flipped it open, skimmed the dossier, and whistled softly when he got to the sniper score. "Okay, he's good." He handed the file to Vin and Buck, who exchanged worried looks when they saw it.
"And he's a lefty," Vin commented, impressed.
"Why didn't he do a DoD override?" JD asked, frowning. All heads turned to him, and he explained to his teammates, "The DoD has a way of wiping a computer clean--first, they wipe it, and then they override it five, six, seven times. It's unrecoverable information." When his roommate sat up straighter and opened his mouth, about to comment, JD glared. "No, Buck, I don't have access to that, and even if I did, I wouldn't use it to clean your computer of the trash you look at."
"Well," McGee replied, answering JD's question, "Garcia was a sniper. He wasn't doing any computer work for the DoD." He paused, then said slowly, "The laptop was Marine-issue, not his. I mean, if he used DoD software to wipe the drive, they'd suspect something since he wasn't doing work for them."
When the answer seemed to satisfy, Tony held up another photo. "Security cameras across the street at the high school--"
"Security cameras at a high school?" Buck asked incredulously.
"Buck, world's changed a lot since you and the Pilgrims went to school," JD snarked, which got him a cuff that sent his hat flying. "Hey!"
"JD, world's gotten a lot smarter since that hat was in fashion," Buck returned.
The hat flew across the table, landing in front of Kate. "Hey, the Red Sox?" She grinned across the table at JD. "Boston fan?"
"Oh yeah," JD grinned, sitting up. "I'm from Boston."
"Good choice," she replied, then added with a smirk thrown in Tony's direction, "Great minds think alike."
"Any--way," Tony drew out, making a face at Kate about the 'great minds' comment, "security cameras across the street at the school kicked in where there was movement in front of the building. Caught them just at the corner." Tony held up a photo. "Garcia and one of Hopewell's associates, exchanging money."
"It's that loser Horace," Nathan exclaimed.
"You know him?"
"He was Hopewell's personal advisor during the reelection campaign," Buck explained. "When Lou--the campaign manager quit, he took over the role."
"So that's what you've got?"
"Based on this photo, Hopewell's man is the last one to see Garcia alive." Tony tilted his head, giving the ATF agents a meaningful look.
Suddenly Vin spoke up. "How do we know it's somethin' bad?" Ten incredulous looks turned to him; he sat back a little, obviously uncomfortable with the attention. He collected myself and then continued, "Mike Garcia's got a good rep."
"You know him?" Kate asked.
"Both of us do," Josiah boomed, nodding at Vin. "He grew up here in Denver, in Purgatorio."
"Purgatory?" Gibbs asked, his tone amused.
"They should've just named it hell and been over with it," Buck muttered.
"Anyway," Josiah replied, "He was one of the kids who got out. Bad neighborhood; he cleaned up something good just before high school and joined the Marines."
"What kind of reputation?" Gibbs asked.
"All of us knew 'bout Mike," Vin replied quietly. "He was a coupla years older'n me. He was a good guy." At the others' inquiring looks, he shook his head. "Most of what I knew came from the guys..." he paused a moment, looking around at the faces as if he didn't want to reveal this bit of information, and then said quietly, "...at the foster home."
Tony and McGee exchanged looks.
"He made me think 'bout joinin' up," Vin finished. "After he cleaned up, he never shot nuthin' he didn't need ta shoot, but he was fast and when he decided somethin', that was it. All of us Ranger snipers knew him, although he was a Marine."
"He must've been really good, then," Gibbs replied, watching the ATF sniper carefully. "If you're saying this."
The room fell silent as everyone looked from one to the other. Vin shifted a little in his seat, more out of his usual wary curiosity than out of suspicion. He turned his baby blues to the NCIS team boss and was slightly startled to see a pair of intense but neutral, clear, blue eyes looking back at him patiently. Vin paused a moment, and then a tiny smile crossed his face. Gibbs had read his file. It briefly occurred to him that the ex-Marine had seen even the...mess-ups...in his file and there was no condemnatory look.
Vin's eyes twinkled, and the NCIS agent's tiny smile widened in response. The sniper just shook his head. "Mike was a legend."
"What about the people he hung out with here? Where are they?" Gibbs asked.
"He didn't hang out with people much, 'specially after he cleaned up. Some moved on, some were killed, lots're in jail," Vin replied. "There is one, though. Rebekah Lawrence. She's an old friend of his. When he's got leave, he comes to Denver to see her. Mebbe she knows."
"How do YOU know her?" Gibbs asked warily.
"She helps at the church youth center. Josiah'n me both know'er."
"How do we find her?"
REBEKAH LAWRENCE'S HOME
"He was a lot older than you?" Kate asked, putting her cup down.
Rebekah nodded. "Eleven years." At the two NCIS agents' inquiring looks, she just chuckled and shook her head. "It's not like that. I've got nothing against May-December relationships, but that wasn't like it for us. I met him when I was four; he was fifteen. It was like getting a much older brother, or almost like a father."
"Four?" Gibbs raised an eyebrow. "How much of him do you remember?"
"Bits and pieces from when I was younger--more when I got older. The letters and the journal my grandmother left filled in a lot of holes." She paused. "I was naive. Mike and his friends had a soft spot for my grandmother, so they tried to keep me from doing dumb stuff. If Mike didn't hold me back by my collar, I probably would be dead."
"The first week I was at Grandma's I decided to go by myself across the street to the local store. Where..." she started looking embarrassed "...they had a shooting a week before. Fortunately Mike happened to be there and he took me home. My grandmother had been frantic, and after seeing how she was, Mike sort of took it on himself to make sure I didn't get in more trouble."
"How long was that?"
She thought for a moment. "Well, he didn't graduate high school until he was twenty, so about five years."
"When did he decide to join the Marines?"
"He said...well, he said in retrospect, he thinks he was about sixteen when he first seriously considered it. One of the new storeowners accused him of covering for some kids who were shoplifting. Officer--Captain, now--Wiggam cleared it up. I think he was the one who talked to him about the Corps."
"How did you find out about this?"
She looked at them sheepishly. "It was my fault he was in the store. Long story. But I'd talk to Mike or to Capt. Wiggam if you want to know what they talked about."
"Did Garcia have a record?"
"I don't think he had charges for that particular shoplifting thing, but I know Mike had a record. He was worried he'd never get into the Marines because of it. Again, you'll have to talk to Mike or to Wiggam."
"When did you last talk to Gunny Garcia?"
She shrugged a moment, thinking. "A couple months ago?"
"Is that a question?" Gibbs asked, slightly impatiently. "When exactly?"
"Four months ago."
"He didn't say anything about coming back?"
She thought a moment, then shook his head. "No. He just said he didn't have leave for another six months. Why?"
"He went UA from his base four days ago."
Her eyes went wide in surprise. "UA? Mike went UA?" She paused, then shook her head. "Like I told the FBI, he wouldn't go--"
All three agents looked up sharply at that. Gibbs interrupted, "You talked to the FBI?"
She shrugged, looking slightly puzzled as she looked from her questioner to Kate and then to Vin. "Yes, why?"
"When did they come?" Kate asked.
"Last week," she replied, her confusion mounting. "They came in asking about Mike."
"And it doesn't surprise you that we're here asking you the same things?" Gibbs asked suspiciously.
She shrugged a little defensively, her eyes wide. "I'm not a LEO; I don't know the way these things work," she replied. "I just figured...." She trailed off.
"You figured what?" Gibbs asked sharply.
She opened her mouth for a moment, then shut it, then began, "Agent Chris Larabee has a reputation for doing things his way, for not trusting anybody's information and retreading ground other LEOs have. So when you showed up with Vin...." She shrugged helplessly again.
Gibbs nodded. Vin could see him letting her stew a little bit before the NCIS senior agent hit: "You have a very nice home, Miss Lawrence."
She fell silent, and Kate could see what Vin had meant when he said on the way over that she just got quiet as a survival mechanism. After a long moment, she merely said in a soft voice, "Thank you."
Way to release information.
Gibbs obviously realized that as he turned to her, an eyebrow raised. Not mincing any more words, he asked bluntly, "How much was it? Your pay at Prospector School District can't be that much. They're a poor district."
"The house was $200,000," she replied, ending there.
"How much is your mortgage?"
There was a long pause, and then a quiet murmur. "I have none."
"You have...NO...mortgage?" Gibbs drew out the question as he raised an eyebrow. "How did you pay for this?"
She turned a little so she was looking at them, her eyes flickering from the senior NCIS agent to his subordinate and then to the ATF agent before turning back. She sighed a little, turning her head, as if thinking through many things.
"How did you pay for this?" Gibbs repeated.
"It was my inheritance," she replied finally, in a very small voice. "It was the money left over after college had been paid for."
"Her uncle is Daniel Borde...laze...Bordelais," Vin replied. "Some Frenchie-soundin' thing."
Standish turned to him with an astonished look. "Daniel Bordelais?" he asked incredulously. "Rebekah Lawrence is related to Daniel Bordelais? Why have you never mentioned this before now?"
"Ezra, who is it?"
"Daniel Bordelais is one of the richest men in New York," Ezra replied. "A highly successful entrepreneur married to a blueblood."
"How does Lawrence figure into this?"
JD looked up from his laptop. "After her parents died, she went to live with her grandmother. Her grandmother died when she was eleven years old. Custody was given to her only surviving relatives--the Bordelais."
"Lawrence's father's sister was the first Mrs. Bordelais before she died of cancer. His second wife," McGee finished as he acknowledged Standish, "is the blueblood. Kids are from his first wife."
"How did we not know about this?" Chris barked.
"She doesn't like to talk about it," Vin replied. "Besides the house, she doesn't get any money from that."
"So that explains the house," Tony commented.
"I don't think we can just assume that," McGee replied.
"Really," Tony dared him, narrowing his eyes ever so slowly. "And I'm sure you know where she got that money from."
"It doesn't mean she's not getting money from Hopewell through Garcia," McGee retorted, the two seemingly oblivious to a few raised eyebrows from the ATF agents.
"Oh, and so what happened to innocent until--"
"Hey!" Kate hissed, glaring at them. Her voice went even lower in her fury, and her angry whisper shut them up: "Can't you two at least keep it in the family? At least look like you agree when we're with other agencies." She looked up at the ATF team with a dark expression, as if daring them to comment about the exchange.
McGee took a deep breath and then said calmly, "All I'm saying is that she grew up with money. To be cut off from it is kind of...difficult. I mean, from the sound of it, she probably grew up with people to buy her clothes for her, buy her food for her, cook it. She's probably never done it herself."
"She IS a bad cook," JD mumbled.
"Mr. Dunne, one oughtn't speak ill of a lady."
"Come on, Ezra. Don't tell me that you don't cringe 'cause she wears sweatshirts and jeans all the time."
"Well, yes, Miss Lawrence does...not seem to dress as one befitting her class."
"'Class'?" Tony retorted sharply. "Look. I'm sure her life now is radically different from what she had when she was in New York, but to assume every rich man's kid acts like...the Hiltons is stupid. Just because she's rich doesn't mean she doesn't know how to work and it definitely doesn't mean she'd turn to crime to support a rich lifestyle."
"I agree with Agent DiNozzo," Josiah cut in. "Beckie didn't go to her aunt and her uncle's until she was nearly in high school. She might not be able to cook, but you have to see her budget for the youth center and how she shops, matching ads and coupons and so on. She seems to know how to manage money. And she certainly can't be spending money on clothing."
"What else do we have? What about Wiggam?"
"Wiggam?" Buck repeated. "Sure we've heard of him. He's an old timer at the PD; he's a Marine Reservist."
"He handled Garcia's case at least once, and according to Lawrence, did a lot to turn Garcia around."
"We'll go talk to him," Chris replied.
"I also suggest you get a protective detail for Ms. Travis and her family immediately," Gibbs replied shortly.
"I already have," Orin cut in. "That's been taken care of."
There were a few nods, and then Chris sat forward with a frown. "Director, Kelly's team is out on a case right now. Who's taking protective detail?" There was a pause as the agents looked back and forth between the blond and the graying director. Chris began to shake his head as he sat back. "No. Director--"
"Team three is a good team, Chris," Orin replied in a severe tone.
Josiah cleared his throat loudly. "I'm going to get a doughnut. Brothers, care to join me?"
"Sprinkles," called the sniper as he nearly vaulted over the chair for the door.
McGee sat dumbly in his chair until Tony kicked him, and the NCIS team started out of the conference room. Kate was just out of the door when Gibbs shook his head slightly at her, and she stepped back questioningly into the conference room as the air-pressure door slowly closed.
"Director, they're not going to be able to keep Mary safe," Chris replied severely. "Either we do the detail and Kelly does the investigation or Kelly does the detail and we the investigation."
"I am not going to pull Kelly's boys now. Team 3 is perfectly capable of doing this," Orin replied firmly. "Kelly needs two days, three days max, and I need you boys to crack open this case, not distracted be by a security detail."
"This is Mary's life, and that includes Billy," Chris replied severely.
"You don't think I don't know that?" Kate watched as the director sighed and ran a heavy hand through his hair. "I wish it could be different. Kelly's promised to come in as soon as they can, but in the meantime--"
"--allow Agent Todd and me to take care of the detail," Gibbs spoke.
The two men turned quickly. "What about your investigation, Agent Gibbs?" Travis asked, not unkindly.
"We agreed in that meeting that the only lead in your case right now is my Marine. Find the Marine, crack the case. We hardly need eleven agents on it at once."
Larabee looked doubtful. "We can handle this."
Gibbs stepped forward, his eyes narrowing ever so slightly. "Agent Todd and I are fully qualified to work a protective detail. We do work for NCIS."
"And how many military officers have you protected?" Larabee asked sharply.
Gibbs paused a moment, narrowing his eyes ever so slightly. "Kate, step out."
The female agent frowned slightly, then headed out the door. When it clicked softly behind her, Gibbs stepped forward. "I've been at NCIS for 19 years and headed a security detail for the White House a few years ago. Agent Todd used to be with the Secret Service, assigned to the president's detail. You tell me if we're qualified."
"If you could watch Mary for us, that would be good," Orin cut in, accepting the offer. "It should only be a few days."
Gibbs nodded and headed out the door.
Orin paused as he watched the door close, and then said in a puzzled tone, "It hardly seems like him to give up the investigation so early."
Larabee snorted. "He didn't. He figures we won't be able to find Garcia in these next few days, so it won't matter if he's not working it directly."
Orin paused a moment, then began to chuckle. "Garcia's a sniper and a Marine. He'd have to want to be found or foul up fairly badly for us to find him in the next forty-eight hours," he confirmed, then shook his head, amused. "This way Gibbs can stay in the loop on the investigation...and, I'm guessing, get information out of Mary."
Chris muttered a not-so-nice epithet.
Orin chuckled and clapped the man on the shoulder as he headed out. "You two should get along just fine."