- *No Site Warnings Apply
- Character Bashing
- Death-Minor Character
- Explicit Sex
- Alternate Universe
- Canon Divergent
- Established Relationship
- Science Fiction
Leroy Jethro Gibbs sat in the conference room, signing the last page of the longest damn NDA he had ever seen. The Air Force Major who was double-checking every dotted I in Gibbs at least had the courtesy of maintaining a steady flow of coffee. Even if it was Air Force coffee.
Gibbs figured he should be ready to rip these people apart, considering the level of secrets they’re keeping. Like, the fact they had spaceships. But here he was, signing forms while sitting inside one big damn secret in space.
He had arrived by being beamed up from Ducky’s autopsy and greeted by Tom Morrow. Of course, his first response had been, “You’ve got some explaining to do, Tom.” Morrow had agreed and escorted Gibbs to this conference room with the waiting major, his paperwork from Hell, and weak-ass coffee.
The Major’s polite yet unyielding demeanor along with never-ending paperwork was enough to convince Gibbs that everything was real and U.S. Red Tape was alive and well, even in space. Eventually he signed the last page, and the Major got up to leave. Before the door could close, Tom entered along with several others.
Tom took the seat directly opposite Gibbs at the table. At the end of the table, was a Major General that Gibbs had seen in passing a few times at the Pentagon. Col. Sheppard was slouched down at the other end of the table with the special forces civilian. Several others, both military and civilian followed, a couple with laptops.
“Well, Jethro. I’m surprised you’ve held back your questions so far.” Tom Morrow started. “I’m sure you have something to say about this.”
“Ya think?” Gibbs focused on Tom and just stared until the man grinned and started to talk.
“First, some introductions. Starting on my left is Major General Jack O’Neill and Dr. Daniel Jackson. On the other side of you is Dean Bates, an Agent with the IOA, which we’ll explain in a moment. You’ve met Ronon Dex and Col. John Sheppard, already. On my right is Col. Cameron Mitchell and Col. Samantha Carter.” Tom briefly motioned toward each as he introduced them. Gibbs returned their acknowledgment.
“You know, Jethro.” Tom continued. “I’ve tried to recruit you and DiNozzo several times since I left NCIS. Thought about just reading you in regardless, but it’s not the way we do things around here. So, I would like for you to hold on to your incredible temper and give us a moment to explain what’s going on.”
“You mean other than spaceships?” Gibbs replied.
“Oh, this is much bigger than spaceships.” Morrow glanced toward Gibbs’ side. “Dr. Jackson, if you would start us out?”
Gibbs turned toward his right and noticed the General rolling his eyes. He brought his attention back to Jackson as the man began to speak.
“OK, so 1928 in Giza, a device was found buried.” Jackson began.
“Short version, Daniel,” O’Neill muttered.
“Right. OK, eventually, we were able to make it work and discovered that it is something called a Stargate that was built by a race who lived here a long time ago. Using this device we can connect to similar devices throughout this and other galaxies. We have teams that go through the stargate to explore, learn, and make allies.” Jackson reached down and picked up his own pump style carafe and filled his coffee cup.
It looked twice as dark as the crap they had been serving, so Gibbs pushed his cup over and just stared at Jackson until he filled it. “Thanks.” He took a sip and was relieved that someone here knew to pack real coffee.
There was silence for another moment, and O’Neill finally spoke. “That’s it? Danny…that was…short.”
“I do listen on occasion, Jack.” Jackson quipped.
“But it was short.”
Gibbs was tired of this. “You try to make friends, so that implies some are enemies.”
Carter took over. “Yes, we have enemies. First, are a race of parasites called the goa’uld. In their natural form they are snake-like. But they like to take humans as hosts. When they do, the host is almost completely suppressed. Long ago they kidnapped people from earth and seeded them all over this galaxy. They rule the descendants of those people as Gods.”
Sheppard spoke up. “And if Gods weren’t enough for you, next door is a race called the Wraith who like to eat us. A while back, a group of us went on an expedition to the Pegasus Galaxy. We found Atlantis, it’s an Ancient city. We also found the Wraith.”
“You went to find an old city?” Gibbs asked while considering which was worse, being inhabited or being eaten.
Jackson perked up and jumped back into it. “Not old, Ancient. The race that built the stargates also built Atlantis. It’s technologically advanced beyond anything we’ve found to date.”
“And you have people there now?” Gibbs took another drink of his coffee as they nodded. “Let me guess, Dr. Rodney McKay works for you.”
Sheppard’s entire demeanor went from slouching to poised to attack. “He’s our Chief Science Officer. He’s supposed to be on Earth for some IOA meetings and some vacation.”
Gibbs looked to his left. “And, IOA is?”
Bates leaned forward. “International Oversight Advisory. It’s a committee of member nations in the know about the Stargate Program. The Program is answerable to them regarding operations and funding. I’m an Agent with the Field Operations Division of the IOA. My taskforce focuses on alien threats on Earth.”
“Get a lot of those, do we?” Gibbs was getting a bad taste in his mouth.
Bates returned his stare, unblinking, and Gibbs recognized another Marine in him. “All the damn time.”
“So, is that what’s going on?” Gibbs glanced around the room at the silence.
“We don’t know, Jethro.” Tom looked at O’Neill.
“What we do know is that we have a missing scientist. I think you know something about it. And Tom has been bugging me for years to read you in. So, you tell me, Gibbs. What do you know about McKay?” O’Neill sat back as Sheppard and Dex leaned forward.
“About three weeks ago, one of my agents was taking voiceprints in the Royal Oaks subdivision in Virginia. While there, he fell into what appeared to be an abduction in process. He was taken hostage along with the victim, who was later identified as McKay. The team watching him dropped the damn ball, and they were taken out of Royal Oaks. Evidence from the crime scene showed some fresh blood, not enough to be life-threatening, fingerprints, and a tiny metallic capsule with the same blood trace.” Gibbs took a drink of his coffee and shoved it toward Jackson for a refill.
Carter got his attention and turned her laptop around after typing furiously for a moment. “The capsule, did it look like this?”
Gibbs glanced at it and nodded before taking back his cup. “That’s it.” Everyone in the room looked worried. “What is it?”
“It’s a transponder. It’s what we use to find our people anywhere on the planet.” Carter explained.
“So someone knew to cut this out of him.” Gibbs considered what he knew. “What does the NID know about your operation?”
“Too much,” Sheppard answered.
Followed immediately by O’Neill, “Too damn much. Why do you ask?”
“Because Not twenty minutes after we ID’d McKay as our victim, a group from NID swooped in, confiscated the evidence, and ordered us to stop investigating by citing National Security. They’ve been watching every move I make since then.” Gibbs explained. “Told us that DiNozzo had fallen into one of their operations, and we were to back away. Until further notice, DiNozzo is seconded to them.”
“Well, that would be a problem. See Gibbs, McKay is the last person that would be involved with the NID. The man’s not even American for Christ’s sake. He’s also the foremost authority on Ancient Technology, so we would never risk him that way.” O’Neill slouched back down in his seat. “Added to that, I’ve been getting weekly reports from his security detail that he’s enjoying his vacation in Canada with his sister.”
“Right,” Dex said with a sneer.
“Sir, I tried to tell you…” Sheppard started before O’Neill cut him off.
“I know you kept saying. But it’s his sister, after all.” O’Neill whined.
Carter shook her head. “Sir, even I could have told you he wouldn’t spend time with Jeannie unless forced.”
“Well, how was anyone else supposed to know that?” O’Neill huffed.
Jackson raised a finger, “I knew it.”
Mitchell grinned like a damn Iowa farmboy, “Even I knew that one. Jeannie’s nicer but has McKay’s mouth and temper when she’s upset. And no one upsets her like Rodney.”
“Meredith,” Carter said and then laughed.
Sheppard shot her a death glare. “He’s missing, and you’re cracking jokes, Colonel?”
Her laughter died, and she stopped smiling. With an apologetic expression Carter reached out to put her hand on Sheppard’s arm. “We’ll find him, John.”
Sheppard’s expression got tight, and there was a look in his eyes that Gibbs clearly interpreted. McKay wasn’t Sheppard’s partner. He was his partner. He would be committed to getting him back, but they would have to make sure he didn’t become irrational about it.
Sheppard looked over to meet Gibbs’ gaze, and his face hardened while his eyes asked a question. Gibbs nodded his understanding and let compassion show through.
He asked his next question of Sheppard. “Last known location, he was with my agent. DiNozzo thinks outside the box, but he’s good at getting himself out of dangerous situations. Keeps his head and always looks for opportunities to turn things to his advantage. If there’s a chance in hell, DiNozzo will find it. What about your man? How is he going to react to this?”
“Poorly,” was the response from Carter.
Gibbs glanced at her but kept his focus on Sheppard.
“He definitely won’t be happy about it. This isn’t the first time Rodney’s been kidnapped. How he reacts depends on what they want him to do. Even when he’s terrified, he’s constantly thinking of ways to get help.” Sheppard explained.
Ronon added, “Man’s more dangerous when he’s scared or angry than anyone I know.”
Sheppard smiled a moment before firming his lips. “Rodney knows the drill. He has to stay alive until he’s rescued or can escape. But, if they ask him for something too dangerous, …he can dig in and be stubborn as hell. And I worry that they’ll retaliate when he speaks his mind.”
“And we know he can’t stop himself from expressing his opinion.” O’Neill quipped.
Ronon shrugged, “Man’s opinion is usually right.”
Gibbs was reading between the lines and adding it to Abby’s declaration of the smartest man known. “You’re certain they want something from him?”
O’Neill sighed and leaned his elbows down on the table while reaching out to play with a pen. “Issues with attitude aside, you don’t just kidnap someone with McKay’s knowledge and skills unless there’s something you want from the man. Something you have no chance in hell getting through normal channels. The fact that someone had the balls to do it and is in a position to continue covering it up speaks to planning.”
Jackson nodded. “The meetings were scheduled three months ago. Among other things, he was arguing for a change in requirements for member countries to assign scientists off-world. We’ve lost a lot of highly intelligent people because they just weren’t prepared to operate in a combat zone. And, we need to be honest and recognize that anything off this world is a potential combat zone. So between his last meeting and the beginning of his vacation was the perfect time to take him. I just don’t understand. What is their reasoning for hiding the abduction.”
Gibbs considered that question. “Any chance they thought they could just return him when they were through?”
Mitchell spoke first, “It’s not like the man wouldn’t have complained loudly if they let him go. It doesn’t matter who knows he’s gone if they can’t keep him quiet. And if they’re not worried about keeping him quiet, then why try to hide it?”
Gibbs sat there quietly a while until Morrow asked for his opinion. “Don’t hold back, Jethro. What are you thinking?”
“You said those snake things can take over a person. How do you know when they do?”
“Unless they show themselves, you don’t know. But we have ways of testing for them. Everyone going through the Stargate or riding on one of these vessels is scanned.” Carter said, then she looked down the table before adding, “Previous hosts can sense them, too.”
“So if they put one of those things in him, they couldn’t fool you long term. Maybe long enough for him to get whatever they wanted. Or if it’s him they want then long enough to quit working for you.” The thought of someone just taking over your body seriously creeped Gibbs the fuck out. That would definitely be worse than being eaten, he decided.
“If that’s what they wanted, what stopped them?” Dex asked.
Tom Morrow exchanged a look with Gibbs before answering. “Not what…who.”
Gibbs was walking beside Tom Morrow along the ship’s corridor. It was still a bit of a mind fuck that he was actually in space. The meeting had broken up with everyone splitting off to get started on their own investigation into McKay and Tony’s disappearance. Carter and Mitchell had beamed off…down…whatever to pick up the evidence bag from Gibbs’ house. It had both the evidence from the original crime scene and the coffee cups from the NID agent.
O’Neill and Jackson had taken off to their base in Colorado to start a scan for any of those goa…snakes. And, Bates was pulling all known information about McKay’s last escort team. As for Sheppard and his shadow, Dex, O’Neill had ordered them to the gym to blow off steam. Gibbs wanted a chance to interview Sheppard eventually. There was a personal relationship there, and Gibbs wanted to know why McKay was vacationing here without his partner.
“I must say, you’re taking this much better than I thought you would, Jethro,” Tom stated, breaking the silence.
“Don’t have time to take it badly with an active investigation, Tom.”
Gibbs stopped and turned to face Morrow. “You’re damn right, I’m angry. Years they’ve been running this Program right under our noses. I understand the need to keep it classified, but you’ve got one bullshit agency that wants to oversee the military operation, another that wants to watch for alien activity on earth and are apparently doing a piss-poor job of it and a bunch of amateurs that have been running their own investigations into crime. Who’s even responsible for their threat assessment?”
“Jethro, you’re right. I’ve been pushing for an investigative team attached to Homeworld Security that can handle both civilian and military investigation within the Program itself. A team that could work beside the IOAs Field Operations Taskforce when needed, but answer to me. What the hell do you think I’ve been trying to recruit you to do?” Morrow let out a frustrated huff.
“Well, you’ve got me now. We get DiNozzo back, and you will have us both. So, what do we do?” Gibbs asked while thinking about what he needed to do to actively coordinate the investigation into McKay’s and DiNozzo’s abduction. And, it was about damn time.
“I’m going to file the paperwork transferring you to Homeland Security. I’ll lock it down as classified, and you keep working out of NCIS as if nothing has changed. There’s something rotten in the N.I.D., and they’re not trying to cover their tracks yet because your little nice act has them confused. Keep it up. While they’re focused on figuring out what you’re up to, we’ll try to ID them. For now, we’ll have Bates run things from here. He was on Atlantis when he served, so he knows McKay.” Tom instructed.
“You don’t think he’ll draw all their attention when he starts poking?” Gibbs gave Tom his best-unimpressed look.
“We’ll split their attention. I figure I can burden you with a couple of house guests. We’re sending Sheppard and Dex to stay with you. They can help you get up to speed; answer some of those questions you’re formulating. Try not to give Sheppard a hard time. He leads a base full of Marines who think he walks on water. Besides, they’re good security in that damn house you won’t even lock. And you can piss off your watchers. Once the N.I.D. is aware they are there, it’s going to drive them insane, trying to figure out how you connected with them.” Tom smiled and turned to keep walking. “They’ll be at your house tonight with some equipment for you. Try not to break it all, Jethro.”
Gibbs was beamed back to NCIS and into an empty restroom of all places. He took a moment to smooth things down and get himself into the right headspace so he could walk out there like he hadn’t just had his world view irreparably altered. DiNozzo was going to love this crap.
Returning to his desk, he noted that Williams and Sands were gone. The note left behind indicated that a UA Petty Officer had pinged on the local LEOs’ radar, and they headed out to pick her up. Gibbs looked at the file and noted that Reston was assigned to cryptology and hadn’t checked in for over seventy-two hours. Gibbs checked the time and realized they had been gone for over an hour, so they should have reached their destination by now. So, he called Williams to check-in.
“Just checking on your status.” Gibbs pulled over some paper and started making a list of items he was going to need. He had no food in the damn house for visitors.
“Petty Officer Jessica Reston was reported UA three days ago. Local LEOs found her and took her to the hospital, but they only got their report submitted today. And, neither they nor the hospital staff saw fit to report her location to her base.” Williams reported.
Gibbs nodded in understanding. It happened more often than he liked. There were procedures in place, but each side will argue it’s the other’s fault. “Accident or crime victim?”
“Neither. Premature Labor. She had complications due to the emergency Cesarean and just regained consciousness today. As soon as she was assured the babies were OK, she started begging them to report to her CO.”
“Babies?” Gibbs scrolled through the file. “There’s no report of pregnancy here.”
“Twins. And, yeah, no one reported it. No way was she hiding it, so I’ll follow up on the report and see who left that off. Might have found her faster if we’d known.”
“Well, I’ll leave it in your hands, Mike.” Gibbs checked the time. “Day’ll be over before you can get back here with traffic. Unless you need something, call it a day after you report to her CO.”
“Will do. See ya tomorrow, Gibbs.” Williams got in the acknowledgment before Gibbs had the chance to hang up.
Gibbs grabbed his gear and was out of the Navy Yard in no time. He swung by his usual grocery store and stocked up on a few meals. He didn’t quite get a read on Sheppard yet, but Dex struck him as the meat every meal type. And snacks, lots of snacks. No one explained anything about the man while they were in the meeting, except he was assigned to the Atlantis base. But there was something just a little off in his body movements. Gibbs figured he had all the time he needed to find out what it was about him that set off his radar.
He was only home a few minutes before a sound had him pulling his firearm and taking cover. He secured his weapon when he saw Sheppard with his hands out in front of him in a classic posture to show he was unarmed.
He held up a hand before Gibbs could speak and reached into his front pocket, pulling out something that looked like a thick pen or marker. A moment later, it started glowing.
“Sorry about that. Should have called ahead.” Sheppard grinned and shrugged.
“Ya think,” Gibbs growled, then gestured to Sheppard’s hand. “What’s that?”
“Nifty little gadget. Takes out any bugs you might have here, both video and audio. Also, no one can get a parabolic mic to work. So we can speak.” Sheppard looked around at the place, but Dex just dropped his bag and sprawled out on the couch.
“Useful. Got any more?” It was like a portable SCIF. That could be extremely useful.
“Sure, but only works for those of us with the gene.” Sheppard pulled a second one out of his pocket and handed it to Gibbs.
Gibbs flinched as it lit up in his hand, and he felt how eager it was to work. “How do you turn it off?” The lights went out with that thought.
Sheppard was staring at him, surprised. “Well, imagine that. Welcome to the club, Gibbs.”
Gibbs rolled it around in his hand a moment then looked up. “So, this is alien tech?”
“Ancient tech to be precise. Some of us are descended from them. Way back when one of them bred with our ancestors. It’s believed that we have a natural attraction for others of our kind, and that keeps the genes strong. But the number of us that can naturally use the tech, it’s pretty low. So, be careful where and when you use that.” Sheppard slouched back in the chair.
Gibbs observed him a minute. He was deceptively at ease, but it was all an act. There was something in his movement, in his situational awareness, that spoke of heavy combat experience and not just a flyboy mentality. Gibbs decided to plunge in and get some answers.
“So, you and McKay?”
“What of it?”
“How long you been together?”
“We met in Antarctica at the Ancient Outpost there. We were on the first wave of the Atlantis Expedition. He’s the Chief Science Officer. I’m the Military CO of the base. It’s civilian-run, so we’re both under Dr. Elizabeth Weir, the Expedition Leader. I run a first contact team through the Stargate in Pegasus. Rodney and Ronon are on my team, along with Teyla, she’s Athosian.”
“I take it Athosian is a native group?”
“Yes. They’re allies, and several of them help as guides on our teams.”
Gibbs looked at Dex. “You Athosian, too?” Because that could explain why the man set him off. Not in a bad way, just in not quite normal.
“Nah, I’m Satedan.” Dex looked up and just stared Gibbs down like he was daring him to ask. There was a quality to the voice and body language that told Gibbs the subject was off-limits. Gibbs figured there was more than one way to get the intel than to push on a line of inquiry that didn’t matter when it came to Tony.
Gibbs looked back at Sheppard. “So, that’s all good to know, but you didn’t answer my question.”
“What question was that?”
“You and McKay.” Gibbs held his gaze until Sheppard broke. That was an act, too. Because the man-made a decision to talk. Sheppard was steel under that laidback persona. No way could he lead a base full of Marines in another galaxy without gaining their respect.
“The day we got the notice that DADT was repealed.” He stood up. “Ya got any beer in this place?”
Gibbs pointed toward the kitchen. “Fridge.”
“People think they were sharing blankets before that law change.” Ronon Dex said from the couch.
“Nope. Not even off-world. McKay had to make the first move.” Dex was silent a moment, staring at Gibbs. “Some people on your world have a problem because they’re both men.” He raised his eyebrow at Gibbs in question.
“Some people are assholes,” Gibbs responded.
“You?” Dex asked with a grin.
“Ask my ex-wives. I’m a bastard, not an asshole.” Gibbs grinned back.
Dex just nodded. “So’s McKay. You and Shep should get along.”
Sheppard came back into the room with three beers. Handed Gibbs one on his way by and then said, “Here, Chewy,” as he passed by Dex.
“So, what do you really want to know, Gibbs?” Sheppard asked after finding his seat.
“What is McKay really like?” Gibbs really wanted to know if this person was going to get Tony killed.
“Rodney is the smartest person you will ever know. When it comes to science and discovery, he’s got this childlike exuberance that spills over and touches everyone around him. To be there when he’s like that is like experiencing life and fun and discovery as a tangible presence in the room. The light of a thousand suns shine through his eyes, and you realize that he doesn’t even see the universe the same way we do.” Sheppard was looking inward with a slight smile on his face.
Dex barked a laugh, “And then he opens his mouth and shreds your intelligence apart and questions why you are still even alive to pollute his air.”
Sheppard laughed at that. “True. Completely true. The greatest thing ever is to listen to him berate his minions for their stupidity and, without even trying, answer every question they have correctly. It drives them all insane.”
“His people hate him?” Gibbs asked, because that kind of attitude could cause issues.
“Not the ones who stick around,” Dex replied then shrugged when Gibbs looked at him.
Sheppard explained, “We’ve had more than a few who can’t stand him. But every single one of them has sub-par work and have been sent packing. We live in an unforgiving environment. People who can’t learn, make mistakes that get people killed. That kind of behavior is a hard line for Rodney. He once told me that he came out there to make the most amazing discoveries of his life. But, he’s learned his true purpose is keeping his people from killing us all with their stupidity. He wants every single one of them to have the same love and experience of discovery he has, but he’s lost too many to their own curiosity. He feels he needs to protect them all from themselves. The ones who learn and understand, stick around.”
Dex nodded, “And they’re rabidly loyal to him for it. Half the military, too.”
“So, he’ll be able to work with DiNozzo and not get them killed?”
“Don’t look like it, but he can hold his own. Fights with his brain. Knows when to let others fight the battles for him and is always planning ways to help. Won’t leave the warriors behind, either. If there’s a way out, he won’t leave without your man.” Dex stated before staring Gibbs down for a response.
“DiNozzo will take any risk to save others. Don’t matter how sick, injured, or outgunned. If there’s a way out, he’ll make it happen. He’ll be focused on protecting your man, even if it gets him killed.”
It was a couple days before the reports started coming in. Gibbs had his house guests, who weren’t bad once he got used to them. There was something about Sheppard that reminded him of DiNozzo. They both wore masks. But where Tony’s was layered and hid his true self for protection, Sheppard’s was a fun-loving, irreverent mask, hiding a highly-intelligent, hardened weapon.
When he had finally talked to Gibbs about his relationship, it was clear the man was completely gone on McKay. He knew every one of the man’s flaws and was in love with him because of them, not in spite of them. Gibbs was certain of one thing. If McKay were hurt by his abductors, they would never be taken alive if Sheppard got to them. Gibbs understood the mentality of stalking your prey when what you loved was taken from you. Sheppard had that in him.
Dex was an open book. Gibbs had lost his world when his girls were taken from him. But Dex had literally lost his whole damn world. Yet, the man had found a way to survive and thrive with a new family that he had made out of nothing. He was intense, yet comfortable in his skin in a way you rarely found on this planet. He would be good at helping Sheppard keep it together. But he would also back him up every step of the way as he slaughtered anyone who had damaged that family.
It was almost the end of the workday when Fornell entered the bullpen. He shoved off his man toward Balboa with instructions to pick up information for a case they were taking over. Fornell continued to Gibbs’ desk and dropped a paper bag in front of Gibbs.
“Put that damn thing back together. I can’t give it to Emily in pieces.” Fornell huffed as he slouched down on a chair.
Gibbs opened the bag and poured out the pieces of the puzzle box. “Em can’t get them back together?”
“I took it apart.”
“It was a gift for your daughter.”
“Just put the damn thing back together.”
Gibbs laughed and slid all of the pieces back where they belonged. He just smirked at Tobias as he handed the cube back to him. “Maybe you should let the kid handle the heavy lifting for you.”
Fornell growled, picked it up, and stomped over to Balboa’s area.
Gibbs shook his head with a grin and looked to Williams and Sands, who had been watching. “Call it a day.” He led by example and grabbed his gear to leave, balling up the paper bag and shoving it in his pocket.
He waited until he was home with the little device on before he pulled out the bag and carefully tore it open. Written on the inside were details about vehicles leaving Royal Oaks with one circled. A van that they were able to trace to its arrival at a heavily armed estate in Maryland. An address was underlined.
He pulled out the second phone he had been issued by Morrow and made the call. “I’ve got a lead on where DiNozzo and McKay were taken.”