[personal profile] lit_gal
My Post-Hiatus story



Illusions Lost
Our experience is composed rather of illusions lost than of wisdom acquired.
Joseph Roux



NCIS/Criminal Minds
Gibbs has left for Mexico, and Tony’s gut is telling him he’s in trouble. Abby is too distracted by her grief for Gibbs to back Tony up, so he decides to go to the most Abbish person he knows for help: Penelope Garcia. Abby introduced them after the two women met at a forensics seminar for federal agents. So Tony asks Garcia if she will do a little digging, but bringing Garcia in means bringing in other members of the BAU. After all, if Garcia thinks a friend is in trouble, she’ll always turn to her Derek, trusting him to do the right thing. Tony just isn't sure that having Derek Morgan on his side is going to help when he has a director making unreasonable requests, a team doing the minimum required for their job and an overwrought Abby to deal with.

Earlier chapters HERE



Epilogue 1: Lara Macy

Lara sighed. When Director Shepard had asked her to take over Gibbs’ old team, she’d thought it was some sort of sign. After all, as a major, she had buried evidence that Gibbs had killed Pedro Hernandez. Coming to save his team from the inept leadership of an agent who had been asked to leave the agency seemed like divine intervention.

She was quickly reassessing that. If DiNozzo was such a poor leader, the FBI wouldn’t have hired him. She had a few other theories about why the team was falling apart.

“Agent McGee?”

“Boss?” McGee asked. Lara sighed. She had asked him to call her Mace or ma’am or even major, but not boss. She had heard too much about Gibbs to be comfortable with this team calling her by his chosen title.

“How did you gain access to the suspect’s house?”

McGee turned red. Well fuck. She crooked her finger in his direction and then headed for one of the small conference rooms. She had a very good idea about what had happened, but she needed to document it. She’d already written up both David and McGee once, and she had hoped that would curtail this behavior. Clearly she was wrong.

Stan Burley looked up from the SFA desk, but she gave him a small head shake. She needed to handle this officially and asking her SFA to talk to them unofficially was nothing less than dereliction of duty. McGee followed her into the office, and she hadn’t done more than close the door before he started in.

“Ziva said that she heard someone inside, and we were afraid someone in there needed assistance,” McGee rushed to say.

“So, you felt you had exigent circumstances,” Lara said. She kept her voice neutral.

“Yes, ma’am.”

Lara nodded and leaned back against the door as she waited for the truth. McGee started shifting from foot to foot.

“I told her that I didn’t hear anything and that we should call in for a search warrant,” McGee finally said. The sad thing was that Lara believed him. She didn’t know which was worse—Ziva who kept violating suspects’ rights with a casual disregard that indicated she didn’t understand the significance or McGee who understood and still didn’t change his behavior.

“Were the exigent circumstances listed in the report?”

“No, ma’am,” McGee said unhappily. “We didn’t end up finding anyone in there.”

“But you did find the evidence that implicated Ensign Cooper.”

“Exactly,” McGee said, and he actually had the nerve to look happier. Lara was going to kill him.

“And after you revise your report to include the questionable exigent circumstances and the illegal entry, how long do you think it will take a defense attorney to get Cooper off?”

All the color left McGee’s face. “But, I can’t do that.”

“Oh, you can and you will, Agent McGee, because on my team, the reports are complete. Did you turn in half-assed reports to Agents Gibbs or DiNozzo?”

McGee looked away. Lara had no idea if that meant he had or he hadn’t. DiNozzo had been a brand new team leader trying to deal with these idiots, and she had certainly heard one or two things about Gibbs playing fast and loose with the rules, and she knew from experience that the man didn’t value the law as much as justice. If she’d had any idea that he would end up in law enforcement, she might have done a little less to bury the evidence on the Hernandez murder. Maybe a shadow of doubt on his record would have kept him out of NCIS.

“Agent McGee, you attended FLETC. You are a full agent and Officer David’s superior on this team. You must enforce all laws, not pick and choose which you find convenient.”

“It wasn’t like that,” McGee protested.

“Oh?” Lara waited for this explanation. McGee needed to grow some balls and stand up to not only David, but anyone who broke the law. Right now she was uniquely unimpressed with his lack of a spine.

“Ziva insisted she heard something. If someone was in there…” McGee let the words trail off.

“Was that worth letting Cooper go on the assault charges? Because that’s what you’ve done, Agent McGee. Because you tainted the evidence, a man with a known history of racial profiling and violence is going to be allowed back into the marines, back onto the streets.”

“But the evidence…”

“Is all gone!” Lara said. She would talk to the director about giving the initial crime to another team and having them investigate without the illegally seized evidence. Maybe they could find some new avenue that led to Cooper because David and McGee had fucked the case up so bad that Lara didn’t see how to save it.

“I never meant…” McGee let his words trail off, and then he stood up straight and looked her in the eye. “I apologize Agent Macy. I should have stopped the search the moment I realized there weren’t exigent circumstances.”

“Yes, you should have,” Lara said without any sympathy. McGee cared about cases, and there was still a chance she could save him from his own stupidity. She had planned to bring in a new probie when she finally talked Director Shepard into moving David onto a counterterrorism taskforce, but now she was starting to think she needed another experienced investigator who could help train McGee. Burley was ready for his own team, so he wasn’t going to stick around forever. He’d only come back as a favor to her once she’d discovered the dysfunction on the team. “You will receive a second official reprimand for dereliction of duty in the field. Agent McGee, your career will not survive many more black marks. Is that understood?”

“Yes, ma’am,” McGee said. At least he met her gaze and took the discipline like a man. Lara wondered if she should track down Agent DiNozzo and ask for his input on his former teammate. However for now she had a more onerous task. Despite Director Shepard’s personal interest in David, Lara could not have her on the MCRT anymore. Leaving McGee to consider the many ways he’d fucked up, Lara headed upstairs.

She asked Cynthia for the first open appointment, and for the thousandth time, she wondered why the office didn’t have an agent in charge. Discipline within a team didn’t seem like an issue for the director. However, no one had asked Lara’s input on the matter. Cynthia made a quick call and then waved Lara straight into the director’s office. Clearly Shepard had fewer meetings than Morrow. Then again, as the first woman in charge of NCIS, it was possible that the other directors were shutting her out. Lara had seen that sort of sexism more often than she cared to remember.

“Lara,” Shepard said as she stood and gestured toward a chair.

“Jenny,” Lara said. She was uncomforting calling a superior by a first name, but she was more uncomfortable disobeying a direct order.

“What can I do for you?”

“I wanted to informally warn you before I filed paperwork on David and McGee.”

Shepard frowned as she sat. “That sounds ominous. What happened?”

“They compromised all of our evidence on the Cooper assault. I’m hoping you can assign the original case to someone else and they can find something linking him to the attacks, but my whole team was privy to illegally obtained information, and our investigation will not hold up in court.” Lara mentally edited out all the curse words she wanted to say. She wanted to yell that they had fucking compromised the god damned evidence after being fucking warned to never again illegally enter any premise, and they chose the fucking Cooper assault to lose their heads up their asses. That’s what Lara wanted to say. And the worst part was that Cooper was the sort of scum that had no place in Lara’s marines, and she had no way to protect the corps from him because of David and McGee.

“I see.” Shepard said it slowly. “Is there a way for me to soften the impact on the case?”

Lara raised an eyebrow. “No, ma’am. David illegally entered Cooper’s residence, and all our investigative leads came from the computer McGee confiscated while there. There’s no way to undo that damage.”

Shepard leaned back in her chair. “That’s a problem.”

“Permission to speak freely?” Lara had been military long enough that she was uncomfortable getting nasty with superiors, but she sure as hell knew how when required. Shepard nodded, and Lara took a deep breath. “David is a disaster on an investigative team. She does not have FLETC training, her divided loyalties call the chain of evidence into question every time a case intersects with her interests as a Mossad officer, and she is not only unaware of basic civil rights, she seems utterly uninterested in learning. I cannot have her on my team.”

“Surely you understand that she is struggling to transition,” Shepard said in a disappointed voice.

“I understand a violent racist is going free because she failed to listen the last time I wrote her up,” Lara said. “At this point, I refuse to put her in the field. If you won’t transfer her, I will put her on permanent desk duty.”

“Do you really think that’s the best use of her skills?”

“No,” Lara said, “but it’s the best way to avoid having another case compromised. I cannot have any contact between her and either evidence or suspects.”

“I see.”

Shepard spent a lot of time saying that. Lara was starting to think it was either a stall for time or Shepard’s profanity-substitute. Someone else substituted ‘fudge’ for ‘fuck’ and Shepard substituted ‘I see’ for ‘you raging bitch, you are making my life difficult.’ Well if that was the case, Lara didn’t care. The damn lab tech already accused her of being on a personal vendetta. Lara’s demand that the lab be secured while her evidence was in process was not unreasonable.

“I’m also filing a second complaint against McGee. If you’re going to suspend him, I need to know because as of now, McGee, Burley and I are the only field-approved agents on the MCRT, so losing one of us for any length of time will pose a difficulty.” Lara waited for the explosion. After all, Shepard had made it clear that David had her backing to stay on the team. Lara couldn’t change that, but there was no way in hell Shepard could tell her how to run her damn team.

“I’ll take that under consideration,” Shepard said. “Is there anything else?”

“Not at all. Thank you, Jenny.” Lara left the office without knowing how the director planned to handle her team’s latest clusterfuck. Either Gibbs had been a fucking miracle worker or DiNozzo had been. Without those two, this team was an unexploded ordinance sitting in the middle of a highway. However Lara wasn’t about to throw herself on this bomb. Nope. Her and Burley were doing this by the book. McGee and David could either shape up or ship out.

Either that or Lara was going to quit and take up ice fishing in the most remote place on Earth. She wanted to, but she’d never backed down in the face of a challenge, and she wasn’t about to start now. When she got back to her desk, she saw David typing away.

“Stan, would you get us a couple of coffees?” she asked.

“You got it, Mace. Anything for you, Ziva?”

“I am fine,” she said, gesturing toward her own cup.

McGee was out of his seat so fast he broke land records. “I’ll go with you.”

Lara had hoped McGee would stay and face down Ziva, but she also had to admit that she didn’t understand the dynamic between the two of them. It could be that Ziva had torn now McGee’s confidence enough that he would never have the balls to confront her. That’s why Lara needed to trim Ziva’s wings for her. She came over and sat on the edge of Ziva’s desk while the other two left.

Ziva glanced up before continuing to type something in Hebrew. For not the first time, Lara wondered if Ziva wrote reports for Mossad. “Can I help you?”

“Tell me the circumstances under which you entered the Cooper residence.”

Ziva’s typing faltered. “I have submitted the report.”

“And I’m asking you to clarify that point. It was overly vague in both your report and McGee’s.”

Ziva stopped and turned to face Lara. “I heard someone inside. I grew concerned and entered.”

“Using your lock picks,” Lara said.

Ziva tilted her head to the side. “In order to secure the safety of any civilians inside, we had to enter quietly. We were concerned given Cooper’s temper.”

Calling Ziva a liar wouldn’t work, so Lara decided to take every bullshit statement as truth. “When you entered the residence, did you find any civilians?”

“No,” Ziva admitted. At least that should have been an admission. Instead it sounded defensive. Lara had no idea what sort of crap Ziva had endured because of her father’s position in Mossad, but she couldn’t allow this disrespect for the law to continue.

“The last time you illegally entered a location, we talked about how you should handle yourself. The second you established that no one was present, what steps should you have taken?”

“I did not illegally enter. I had exigent circumstance,” Ziva said firmly.

“Assuming that’s true, what should you have done the second you realize there was no one present?”

“Since I entered legally, the rules did not apply to this situation.”

“Oh, but they did the second you realized there was no civilian present. Why did you take the computer?”

“It was in plain sight.”

“Irrelevant.”

“Anything in plain sight may be seized.”

Lara wondered if she misunderstood the law or was simply trying to twist it around on itself. “The evidence in the computer was not in plain sight. You had to search for it. Did you believe there was a civilian in need inside the computer?”

Ziva stood, and Lara quickly followed. “You are making fun of me,” Ziva accused her.

“I am pointing out that exigent circumstances could not have applied to the computer search.”

“Then discuss that with McGee. He did the computer search.”

“I’m discussing it with you. As a member of the team that went to the Cooper house, you should have immediately called for a search warrant.”

“I am not an NCIS agent. Tony insisted that such legal issues must go through an agent.”

“Is Tony here?” Lara asked, although that was actually the sanest rule she’d heard yet.

“No.” Ziva barked the word out and narrowed her eyes. She’d made it clear she considered Lara a distant second to DiNozzo, and Lara was getting tired of the disrespect.

“I gave you a direct order to obtain search warrants and avoid entering any suspect’s space without prior authorization.”

“The circumstances were different,” Ziva said before sitting and starting to type again. She clearly considered the issue over. Well Lara had dealt with hard-headed Marines and she could deal with a hard-headed Mossad officer.

“Officer David, you are now restricted to your desk during working hours. You are not to interrogate suspects under any circumstances. You are not to go into the field under any circumstances. You are limited to completing computer searches, and I will be writing you up for your involvement in the Cooper investigation. If you leave this office for any reason other than to go home at the end of the day, I will write you up for insubordination. Are these orders clear?”

Ziva was on her feet before Lara got halfway through her speech.

“You cannot do that.”

“I can and I have. Agents Burley, McGee, and I will handle all fieldwork from this point on. If you are interested in having a more active role in the agency, I suggest you start looking for open positions and request a transfer.”

Lara turned and headed back to her desk. Damn that felt good. Maybe she hadn’t pulled the team out of the mud yet, but at least she was on the right track.

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