The Mile High City Affair
ATF crossover with "NCIS"
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DENVER POLICE DEPARTMENT
"He was a good kid," the elderly policeman--Wiggam--replied. "The storekeeper was...he was so angry at the time. You should've seen it," he chuckled. "There was this furious man, and this teen looking just as angry and spitting fire; and this chubby, wide-eyed little girl clutching his hand and hiding behind him, looking like she was about to cry."
"What happened?" Tony asked as he finished making a note.
"I took Mike Garcia to the station. Beckie Lawrence wouldn't talk to me. At first I thought maybe she didn't speak English, but he assured me she could. I guess he figured she was his chance to avoid charges, and so after a little prodding, she told me why she, at least, was in the store."
"Why was it?"
"She said she had to go to the bathroom." There were snickers.
"You didn't buy it," Buck replied with a smile, seeing the officer's amused smile.
Wiggam snorted. "Like the rest of you, I've seen people use small children as shields. Mike Garcia was on the border of his turf with a small child in tow. I wasn't buying it for a moment. I left the room for awhile, with other people watching them interact. He let her sit on his lap, drew pictures for her. It seemed...genuine. I mean, if this got out, he'd been branded a wuss and everyone would assume they could pick fights with him."
"What happened then?"
"Beckie Lawrence's grandmother showed up and hollered her way to be the first to talk to me. Based on what she told me, Garcia's concern for the little kid was real. When I talked to the storekeeper again and got his story, I found definite problems--if Mike had been fronting for the two shoplifters, he had really awful timing. A couple of officers brought the two kids in, and with a little finagling, got them to admit they didn't know Mike. That was enough for me, anyway, to clear him."
"What did you do then?"
"I brought Garcia back in, alone. Had a talk with him."
"About what?" McGee asked.
"The Marines." The men chuckled. "He has good wits about him, natural survival instinct; and from what I saw that day, a heart and a deep sense of responsibility underneath. Lawrence, piddly squat on survival instinct--well, she was very good at fading into the woodwork. After just a few minutes, you'd forget entirely she was there. But Garcia--he had honed instincts, and seemed like he could disappear and reappear at will...like your Agent Tanner."
"What did Garcia say at the time about the Marines?"
"Scoffed. Didn't like taking orders, he said, or wearing some starched uniform. I didn't hear from him again for several years. Next time he came in...." Wiggam shook his head a little, remembering. "Dress blue charlies, the whole thing." He chuckled with the others. "He told me he'd joined up and he'd actually finished training already. They'd picked him out to be a sniper."
"Did you know about his ability to shoot?"
"No. I know he had excellent eyes, though." Wiggam sobered as his eyes flickered to the two ATF agents. "With Marine training, I'd say he's one of the deadliest men in this country."
BROWN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
"Mommie!" Kate watched with a smile as a small, tow-headed boy broke away from the crowd of children and ran towards them, his small backpack bouncing all over his back.
The professional reporter retreated and the mother came forward as Mary Travis knelt to scoop the boy into her arms and straight up into the air. The pure joy she had from her seeing her son was obvious; although Kate doubted that Mary would ever be able to give up her job--reporting was such a part of who she was--it in no way diminished the obvious love she had for her child.
The minute Billy was put back on the ground, he turned and saw the two NCIS agents. To Kate's surprise, the boy suddenly grew shy and cautious and retreated behind his mother, gripping her hand as he peered out at them warily.
Mary smiled apologetically. "He's a little...wary of strangers," she explained. "Billy, this is Agent Gibbs and Agent Todd. They're NCIS agents and they're going to stay with us a little while, okay?"
The little boy's eyes widened slightly, and Mary felt her son's hand grip hers a little more tightly. To her surprise, it was the perpetually silent Gibbs who first crouched down to her son's level. He smiled at the boy, his blue eyes kindly twinkling at the child, and Billy's caution lessened slightly.
The reporter looked on in fascination as Agent Gibbs talked quietly to Billy about the small, hand-carved wooden horse attached to his bookbag, the one Chris had given him when the child first arrived in town. Talking about his favorite subject brought Billy out of his shell quickly, and within a few minutes, he was telling Gibbs all about Chris Larabee as the four headed out to the car.
Mary's amusement grew as she watched her son with the NCIS agent. She stole a sidelong peek at Kate, and saw the woman's amused expression--one tinged with the slightest bit of annoyance. Mary knew that feeling--when one discovered that a second grader could get more information out of a federal agent than a reporter (or, in Kate's case, a fellow colleague) could.
After she buckled her son into the car and shut the door, she straightened. Looking from one agent to the other, she said quietly, "Is two really necessary?" There was no stubborness, no defiance, just a question.
"This guy is not small-time, Ms. Travis," Gibbs replied shortly. "I think you know you're being hunted." When she didn't reply, he continued, "We're going to set up a command post in your house, set up surveillance. You're going to--"
The blonde shook her head, and Kate thought she looked emotionally drained. "Agent Gibbs, Agent Todd," she said quietly, her voice sounded almost defeated. "I understand how the protective detail works. Do whatever you need to. All I ask is...don't scare Billy." With that, she slid into the car.
Gibbs and Kate exchanged looks.
"Wiggam said the same thing Lawrence did. He said Garcia had great survival instincts but was kind of a soft heart sometimes. Said he would have made a spectacular Marine."
"What about his associates?" Gibbs asked over the video conference screen.
Josiah flipped through his little notebook. "Most haven't had contact with him since he left Purgatorio; even then, they said that he was distant the last few years."
"They must have not liked that," Chris commented.
"Well, Buck said that Wiggam believed he had the survival instincts. Somehow he managed to get out of that group, continue to live there for a few years, and then make it out of high school and into the Marines without a problem."
"What do you have for us, Abby?" Tony asked, tilting his head at the flatscreen, where a video of Abby was just under the video feed from Mary's home.
"I just found a virus on Garcia's computer," Abby said. She called up the screen. "It's a really sophisticated trojan horse application. Which email it was attached to when it came in, I'm not sure, but when he--"
"Abby, keep it short," Gibbs cut in.
"Patience, Gibbs," the lab specialist replied with her usually cheerful grin. "Someone was tracking what Garcia was doing on his computer. It's pretty sophisticated stuff." She grinned even wider, if that were possible. "Here's the thing. I think Garcia knew."
"What?" Buck voiced all the agents' confusion.
"Some of the stuff I pulled from his hard drive, which he'd deleted before, was kind of broad in terms of sites he visited and emails he sent. Right around the time the trojan was put on, he stopped. There was a whole bunch of people he stopped sending emails to, and he stopped going to certain websites, everything. I mean, some email strings just stop abruptly."
"What kind of email strings?"
"For example, correspondence with Rebekah Lawrence. The first couple emails seemed to say that he was going to visit Denver during his leave time, but then he stops responding. She sent maybe two more emails, the last one about a month ago. He doesn't respond to either."
"Did he stop all Internet activity?"
"No. He was definitely trying to keep up appearances. He visits a fantasy baseball site regularly, ESPN, news. Doesn't seem to follow politics that closely and really likes the Denver Rockies. Some of the other email strings do continue. One of his old buddies is in Iceland, and there are some joke emails going back and forth about their deployments."
"Can you trace the bug?"
"It's taking me a little time than I would like, and right now I'm swamped tracking the emails coming in to Garcia's account, trying to filter out the spam from the stuff that might be remotely important."
"Need some help?"
"Well, all of you are in Denver."
"We can swing you out here," Chris replied. Even over the screen, Gibbs looked slightly surprised. "H-ll, five of you are here already. Might as well finish me off."
MARY TRAVIS' HOME
Kate shut the den door and stood there, eyes boring holes into the back of Gibbs' head. He didn't turn around, but started, "You--"
"I know, I know," Kate replied, coming to the desk. "'You never work the system when you can work the people.' You've been chatting up Billy Travis since we picked him up from school."
"Larabee finds out you've been digging Billy for information, and you're going to be strung up like those horse traders you're descended from."
"Sounds like you'll miss me," Gibbs replied, an amused expression on his face. At her look, he sat back. "Billy and Mary Travis can provide us with the information that isn't in their files."
"I know that."
"Tell me about Larabee's background again."
"Former Navy SEAL--met Wilmington in the Navy--was with the Denver police department until his wife and his son were killed in a car bomb meant for him. There's a couple years when you don't hear anything. When Travis was asked to oversee one of the new specialty ATF teams, he took on Larabee. Their first case was a prostitution ring...some fellow named Wickes."
"For the ATF?" Gibbs said in disbelief.
"It probably had something to do with alcohol...tobacco...firearms...or explosives." Kate shrugged, an amused smile on her face.
"But that's not the first time the team got together," Gibbs muttered. "That's only the first case on record since they were hired."
"How do you know?" Kate asked puzzledly.
"Ducky said something about them saving Travis' life. It wasn't just Larabee, it was all seven. That wasn't in the file."
Kate shut the folder. "You're right," she murmured. "I'll go talk to Mary, find out what she knows."
"Short rope, long drop," Gibbs commented with a smirk as she headed to the door. She made a face at his back.
"Hey Chris," Kelly greeted as the door opened without even a knock. "How's the case going?"
"How long until you can clean up the Moitinho case?"
"Bust goes down tomorrow morning, and then we have the reports. Look, Larabee, we'll help as soon as we clear the books on that one."
"Right after the bust goes down."
Kelly shook his head. "No. My guys need rest, Chris."
"What is going on?" Kelly asked sharply.
The blond's eyes flickered briefly around the room before he sat down. "Hopewell hired a Marine sniper. You should've seen his score. Off the charts."
Kelly whistled. "That explains NCIS."
"Not only that, he used to live in Denver. In Purgatorio, according to Vin and Josiah."
"They know him?"
"Oh, yeah. He's a legend--how he got out of the bad part of town, cleaned up, joined the Marines. Not only is no one going to believe he's doing this, he knows enough about the city and us and the Travises to keep a low profile."
"What do you want us to do?" Kelly asked, then amended, "after we close the Moitinho case."
"I need you to take over the protective detail on the Travises. Team 3 is covering it right now."
"They're good, Chris," Kelly replied, struggling to keep from smiling. Chris didn't trust other people, period.
"I. Don't. Care. I want someone I know on that detail."
"No, you want someone whom you can beat to a pulp if something goes wrong." Team 3 had two agents with politician parents. They were extremely skilled but had that cloud--sometimes of suspicion, sometimes of protection (and here, both)--over their heads.
Chris glared and continued. "Right now NCIS is watching Mary and Billy at home."
Kelly's eyes widened. Chris Larabee had handed over Mary and Billy Travis to another agency? Almost inadvertently he looked out the window, expecting Babe the sheepherding pig to fly by. The man didn't even trust his horse to his own teammates.
Well, that's for an entirely different reason, reminded a little voice in his head. They tried to dye it red.
Kelly paused, picking through his brain. "NCIS does protect high-ranking military officers," he commented, which only earned him a famous Larabee glare. "Chris. Agents Gibbs and Todd have better credentials than we do. What are you worried about?" He only got another glare in reply.
The Team 8 leader conceded with a sigh. Yes, dumb question. In Chris Larabee's world, things took a very different order. Whiskey ranked higher than food and black clothes were perfectly fine even in summertime, even if he were in the Congo.
Kelly headed out, thinking for the thousandth time that day that really, the man shouldn't have been given an ice cream scoop, much less a gun.
+ + + + + + +
"Hey." Buck clapped a hand down on Tony's shoulder. "Where're all you staying while you're here? There's not a Navy base in sight."
"I don't know. Probably some motel or something. Gibbs and Kate'll be staying at the Travises' for now, and Ducky's already at your director's home."
"Wanna come to JD and my place? You and the kid, too."
"Mr. Wilmington, I do not believe that is a good idea."
"Your place is called the CDC for a reason," Nathan agreed.
"The CDC?" McGee's eyes widened as he looked at JD, who stared back defiantly.
"Don't say it, probie," Tony warned, pointing the business end of a pen at the younger agent.
"I--I didn't say anything!"
"You were thinking it."
"That I'd feel right at home," Tony replied, narrowing his eyes at the younger NCIS agent.
"All of you can move to the ranch if you want," Chris replied as he came out of the office. When the others looked up, he continued, "Until this is over I'm going nights to watch the Travises. Vin's going to watch the horses for me at the ranch, and it might be better if no one stays alone during this case, so you're welcome to stay with him there if you like."
Tony exchanged looks with McGee. Larabee looked more like he was agreeing to a root canal than he was making an offer.
"Thanks, pard!" Buck boomed, grinning as he clapped his old friend on the shoulder.
"I better not find chips smeared into my carpet," Chris replied in warning as he grabbed his jacket and headed out.
ORIN TRAVIS'S HOME
"I thought it was rather silent in here," Evie Travis replied as she came in with a tray of steaming coffee. As Orin helped his wife, the ME stood out of politeness. "Don't tell me Ducky has run out of stories already."
The two men chuckled. "I'm afraid that Orin knows all of them, anyway," Ducky replied, his eyes twinkling. "He could probably correct the details for me."
"Well, I'm going to turn in. Good night." She kissed her husband on the cheek and headed out.
"She seems to be doing well," Ducky commented when Orin's wife was out of earshot.
"I sometimes think Evie is more resilient than I," Orin replied quietly. "Unfortunately, she has taken in the boys as her own and gets just as worried as I do when they're on a bust and the phone rings."
Ducky smiled a bit sadly. "This brings back bad memories."
"I just keep thinking about Billy," Orin murmured. "To have both his parents killed as targets of--"
"He only lost one parent so far," Ducky interrupted severely. "I don't think your agents will let that happen, and Jethro and his team certainly won't stand idly by."
"I didn't mean to imply--" Orin started.
"I know you didn't." Ducky's voice softened a little. "But this type of thinking will not help anyone."
Orin nodded, taking the chastising in stride, and then he commented with a black-humor smile, "James died last year. Oh, two years, now."
Ducky nodded. "I know."
"I'm the only one left of my team--the six I worked with before we two began to work together."
Ducky smiled. "I know. I worked with many of them once, too, before we began to work together. Steve, James, Charlie." He paused, then with a small smile, "Everyone else is...falling over by the wayside, and here we are, you and I...sailing into the future."
"Yes.... Here we are." Orin paused a moment, and then his face creased into a smile as he handed a mug of coffee to his old friend.