NCIS Fan Fiction ❯ Godly Marine: Killed ❯ 5 ( Chapter 5 )
"Where are we at, right now?" Annabeth sighed out.
Grover glanced at her, his pretend Boss, before quickly going back through the recorded security feed he was viewing along with Tim. Annabeth had instructed him to look over the tape specifically to look out for anything monster or divine related, trusting the mortals to find any suspicious happenings themselves. Guess she wasn't just pretending to be the Boss. A very tired one at that.
"BOLO's out on Marko Tarsibo," Agent DiNozzo reported, "Metro has been notified, and the local LEOs and highway patrol have been informed to look out for him and his fancy ride."
"McGee, Underwood," Gibbs called, a new cup of coffee steaming in his hand, "Where's Michael Kahale?"
"Getting it, Boss," Tim responded, "Tarsibo's security is just one long continuous feed. I'm having to rewind."
"You know," Grover thought aloud as he watched the speed of the video increase to an hour per second, "He never really comes out of his office. He only came out when you guys were- wait! There!"
"I see it," Tim said, "Putting it on the screen, Boss."
Grover turned to watch as Marko Tarsibo sauntered out of his office to greet Michael.
"Is there audio on this?" Gibbs asked.
Tim shook his head. "No."
"Everything looks to be going all right," Percy commented as he watched the video.
Agent David hummed in disagreement. "Sergeant Kahale seems very tense."
It must have been something that Tarsibo said, but they couldn't hear. In an instant, Michael had a dagger at Tarsibo's throat. A celestial bronze dagger. It was a little blurrier than the rest of the video, but there was no hiding it. Well, there was the connection that Annabeth wanted Grover to find.
"Woah!" Agent DiNozzo exclaimed, "Bad deal? Shows us how the business can really be cutthroat."
The scene became less tense as whatever Tarsibo was saying, made Michael remove the dagger from the man's throat. A mistake that Grover recognized. Monsters could be incredible tricksters and could lay down some intense traps. Michael moved to take out a pouch from his pockets and dumped the contents on the counter.
"Gold coins?" David wondered.
"Whatever it is," DiNozzo said, observing as Michael was handed car keys and left, "He certainly didn't pay in cash. We thinking a gold smuggling ring, Boss?"
"I don't think so," Gibbs said and turned to Annabeth, "What did you get on the person Kahale called?"
"The phone was a burner, but the name of the contact was Annabeth Chase."
Grover tried not to look too conspicuous as he glanced at Annabeth.
"I spoke with her parents, who live in San Francisco," Annabeth continued. "They have not seen her for months."
"Get a BOLO out on her."
Grover was snapped back to his own assigned job as he saw a scene blur through the screen.
"Stop," Grover demanded, his heart skipping a beat.
The other discussions in the squad room stopped.
"What?" Tim asked.
"I said stop," Grover snapped, staring at the video, "Let it run."
Nothing happened on the screen for a while.
"What are we looking at, Underwood?" Agent Gibbs asked.
"They will come on any second, now," Grover murmured.
"They?" Agent David asked.
Shadows rippled across the rental as the door opened, and a couple walked in.
"Kids?" Tim said, surprised, "Wonder what they're doing here."
"Aw, look," Agent DiNozzo teased, "They're matching."
"Purple is a nice color, Tony," David said.
Grover didn't say anything. He didn't dare remove his eyes from the screen. He recognized the way the kids carried themselves. He recognized the battered and tired way the kids looked. He recognized the way they considered the room. He recognized the way the video blurred in specific areas to hide divine weapons. Grover wanted to yell at them to run away. They had no idea what they were about to walk into.
Grover's blood ran cold as he saw Tarsibo come out of the office, the smile masquerading on his face looking sleazier than usual. The conversation they had was short before Tarsibo made an obvious gesture towards his office.
"I don't like where this is going," Tim said. Agents David and DiNozzo made a sound of agreement. Gibbs and the demigods stayed silent.
The door closed behind the three of them, blocking them from the camera.
"You sure there wasn't any surveillance in that office?" Tim asked, worried.
"We're sure," David said.
The office door swung wide open, and one of the kids scrambled out. He was covered in blood spatters. He was running. But the boy didn't get to go far. Tarsibo came from behind him, a curved blade in hand, and gutted the boy. The tip of the sword gleamed from its place, sticking out of the boy's chest.
They watched as the man- no- as the monster dragged the dead boy back in the office.
"He…he killed them," Agent DiNozzo whispered.
"They couldn't have been older than thirteen," David stated.
"Get back over there and lock it down," Agent Gibbs ordered, "Bring anything you can to Abby. McGee, get an ID on those kids. Keep going through that security feed."
"Boss, check this out," Tim said. He brought up the recordings again. The time was a little under a week old. A day before the date of the murder of the kids.
"Don't tell me it's more kids," Agent DiNozzo said.
"No," David observed as the video played out. "It is Mrs. Kahale."
They watched as Mrs. Kahale interaction lasted less than three minutes and ended with handshakes.
"Well," DiNozzo commented, "She's still alive."
"Bring her in," Gibbs said and headed towards the elevator.
"I'll update Director Vance," Annabeth said, "Grover, can you go through the video?"
"Where are you going, Boss?" DiNozzo asked.
"Gibbs," Annabeth called, climbing up the stairs, "I'll meet you at Abby's after your visit to Ducky. I want to see those notes as well."
Gibbs lifted a hand in response.
DiNozzo gave a long sigh. "I guess someone is going to have to go back to the dealership."
"I'm already on the way to pick up the stepmom," Clarisse huffed, snatching her gear and hurrying her way out.
Tony stumbled to get his own stuff, but David beat him to it. "You've already paired up with Agent La Rue, Tony," she said, giving her excuses, "Besides, you already know the way there."
Grover shared a smirk with Tim as Tony stood there, betrayal written on his face. The smile fell of Grover's face as he got to work going through all of the tape.
"Come on," Grover heard Percy say, "Let them have their girl time. They should have a great time discussing um…"
"All the ways to kill and torture someone?" Tony supplied weakly.
Jimmy was helping Dr. Mallard with the final stitches for the deceased Staff Sergeant Michael Kahale when Agent Gibbs strode in.
"Ah! Jethro! How good of you to come down. Ziva nor Anthony are injured?"
"Both okay and working, Doc. What have you got?"
"A time of death. Sometime from one o'clock in the morning to one thirty. I can also confirm that, although very healthy, the Staff Sergeant had been taking to consuming greasy food for the past couple of days."
"Bar food," Gibbs said.
"Yes," Dr. Mallard nodded, "I did a thorough autopsy. His internal organs were perfectly fine; I'd dare say this young man never drank a drop of alcohol in his life! But there were definitely tissue and muscle scars in numerous places."
"He's like an ancient Greek soldier," Jimmy mused. "Like in the stories. You know, Achilles…" He faltered as Gibbs turned to look at him, and he felt the nervous need to explain. "Well, Abby has the Greek notes you found, and like the knife which was Greek and stuff." Jimmy's face burned as he ended his stammering.
Dr. Mallard gave him a small smile, "Actually, Mr. Palmer is quite right to make such connections."
Really? Jimmy beamed with relief and admiration for his mentor.
"Besides all of the things that you found in the Sergeant's apartment," Dr. Mallard turned the head of the man to the side and pointed at the bullet hole, "What do you make of this?"
"Skilled shot," Gibbs said, "Went straight through, clean kill."
"Yes, skilled it may have been," Dr. Mallard said, "Or luck."
"Not a chance, Duck," Gibbs scoffed. "I don't believe in luck, especially not with a shot like that from the driver."
"Yes, but Abby found something that makes me believe that our killer certainly believed in luck and Fortune- Fortune with a capital F."
"Ah, Ducky, no more mythology stuff."
Dr. Mallard chuckled, "I believe that it is a prominent theme in this case. There were many times when I served where old mythologies and superstitions were practiced by the local soldiers or militia. And these scratches on his back, I believe, were placed there because of Hellhounds."
"Hellhounds?" Gibbs asked.
"Yes, in many religions, including sects of Christianity and many mythologies and folklore, Hellhounds were the hounds of the Devil or the underworld who sniffed out and dragged souls down to the fiery abyss."
"So, it's a message?" Gibbs questioned.
Ducky shrugged. "I'm not quite sure."
Gibbs groaned. "Alright, let me go see, Abby. And we might need you some more, Duck," Gibbs said, "I'll get McGee or Underwood to send you a video."
"Catch a murder on tape, did you? Who is the victim?"
Gibbs stopped right as the automatic doors hissed open and turned around. He held up two fingers. "Two kids, Ducky." He walked out.
Kids!? Jimmy looked at Dr. Mallard with wide eyes. Were they going to have to dissect kids!?
Dr. Mallard gave a long, sad sigh. "Mr. Palmer," he said, "Once you are done helping me with Staff Sergeant Kahale here, you may go home for the night."
Jimmy nodded. He trusted Dr. Mallard to know his assistant's limitations. While this would be a good teaching moment, Jimmy just wasn't ready for it yet.
Annabeth climbed the rest of the way down to the upper basement level at the same time as the elevator dinged, signaling Agent Gibbs's arrival.
Gibbs gave her a wary look. "Waiting for me?"
Annabeth smirked. It was always nice to know that she had calculated the timing perfectly. "Nope, I just came down." She frowned at the large drink the older man was carrying. "Should she really be having another one?"
Gibbs gave a shrug while shaking his head, before continuing into Abby's lab. Annabeth groaned at the assault on her ears. She hoped she wouldn't have to endure this for long.
"Gibbs!" Abby exclaimed. "Lima!" She gasped, her eyes shining, "And Caf-Pow!"
She went to grab it with both hands, but Gibbs held it away from her. "Abbs, the notes. And Ducky said you got something on the bullet."
Abby pouted but went straight to work. "So, bullet first because if I start talking about the notes, I will lose it. That guy was amazingly talented and the fact that-"
"Abby," Gibbs interrupted, "The bullet."
Abby took a breath to calm down. "Okay," she said with an excited smile, "The bullet has an engraving."
"An engraving?" Annabeth asked, "Of what?"
Abby pulled up the picture, blowing up the image of the bullet to show the engraving in detail.
"A wheel?" Gibbs said, an eyebrow raised.
"Not just a wheel," Abby corrected, "The wheel of fortune, the symbol of Fortuna."
"Tyche," Annabeth modified. Although that wasn't entirely correct. None of Tyche's symbols were of the wheel of fortune.
"No," Abby insisted, "The wheel is more a symbol of the Roman goddess, not the Greek one."
Oh. Well, Annabeth felt sheepish. While being steeped in the Greek world, she had barely touched upon the Roman myths. She should definitely brush up on that. It seems that Roman myths may have some connection with the divine world.
"So, what are you saying," Gibbs asked, "That our killer was aided by a god?"
Annabeth shifted. Well, it was a possible scenario. And if that's what happened, this case just got more complicated. But why would Tyche help kill the son of Athena?
"Although, I'm sure that there are all sorts of supernatural beings around," Abby said earnestly, "That shot was made by one skilled shooter. No, the engraving is really cool, and I'm sure the story behind it is just as awesome, but I want to show you the equipment that made it."
A photo of a bulky machine came on the screen. "Ta-da! The Automotive-Plus Micro-Laser Engraver FZ-300™! Want to take a guess at who owns one of those?"
Annabeth gave out a tired sigh. "Marko Tarsibo."
"Ding! Ding! Ding!"
"Great," Annabeth said, "More evidence against this guy. We just need to find him."
"Not done yet, Lima," Gibbs said, "Not till we get it out of him."
Annabeth frowned at him. "Isn't a foolproof pile of evidence good enough?"
"Nah," Gibbs said, "I prefer getting a straight confession."
"Oh, is that how you do things? How's that been working for you?" Annabeth teased. No way would people just admit to hardcore crimes to this guy.
"Been working pretty well," Gibbs said with a self-satisfied nod.
"Anyway," Abby said, "Now that that's over with, let's move on to Michael's ridiculous brilliance."
"What do you got?" Gibbs said.
"Horrible grammar," Abby said in a weird tone.
Gibbs gave her an odd look. "What?"
Annabeth mirrored Gibbs. "What was wrong with his grammar?"
Abby gave a gratified smile. "It's Greek for 'Ancient Words.'"
Oh, Annabeth realized, Abby was speaking Greek. 'What she needs is a better translator.'
"McGee was right. This is no code – or maybe it's the best code!- I gave this to a dozen professors and researchers after our Greek consultant told me that it was just Greek to her."
Abby snickered. Annabeth ignored her but could feel the unimpressed aura Gibbs gave off. Annabeth shuffled through Michael's notes. They might have been gibberish to whoever this consultant was, but Annabeth could read it perfectly fine.
Words jumped out at her. 'Monsters.' 'Drowsy Owl.' 'Weapons.' 'Money.' 'Botsaris.' Annabeth frowned. Why did she recognize 'Botsaris'?
Annabeth tuned back into what Abby was saying. "This isn't just Greek. Michael was writing in Ancient Greek! Apparently, with such skill that he was able to use advanced abbreviations, conjugates, and contractions. He even used words that are unheard of.
"The professors that found this said that it would take some time; I'll call you when they give me anything new. I promised them a look at my findings of the possible Orichalcum to speed them up a bit. Currently, we know what was written in English and what the translators have already translated. This includes mentions of two known Mexican Cartels: the Sinaloa cartel and the Reynosa Cartel. There was also a mention of what the Ancient Greeks labeled as the Islamic Region or Middle East, but there is a bunch of side scribbles alongside that, we need to wait for translations."
Annabeth hastily searched through the pile for the mention of the Middle East, trying not to draw attention to her actions. She found it on a napkin.
'Idea: Business extends to Middle East
Get in on wars
Botsaris is key
Confirm hypothesis by tagging Botsaris'
There it was again. 'Botsaris.' What was it about that word that called out to her?
"There is also a note of a 'Something Owl Tavern' which we can interpret to mean the bar that he went to, Drowsy Owl," Abby continued, "And there is a whole bunch of mentions about monsters, like something about 'Monster Donuts'; I would love me a mean doughnut."
Annabeth was roughly brought back to reality, disbelieving her ears. "What did you say about doughnuts?" She asked. Because no way was that particular chain involved.
"I would love some."
"No, the shop."
"Monster Donuts?" Abby said.
"Shop?" Gibbs asked.
Annabeth froze. Uh-oh. She slipped up. Annabeth cleared her throat. "Um, yeah. Monster Donuts. It's a fast-food chain that serves, er, doughnuts."
"Really?" Abby pressed, "I've never heard of them. Are they any good? I should totally check them out!"
"No!" Annabeth yelped, startling the two government employees. "I mean, they're pretty bad," Annabeth played off, "Gross, even. Besides, who knows what sort of trouble they've been getting themselves into?"
Annabeth coughed awkwardly. "What else do you have, Abby?"
Abby continued her report, telling who she gave the information to and listing their credentials.
Annabeth paid no mind, her head wheeling over this new material. They had, thus far, no encounters with any monster besides Marko Tarsibo. But if Monster Donuts was involved, then there should be monsters crawling everywhere in the city. Suspicious.
"Abby," Annabeth said when the forensic scientist was done giving all she had, "Can you please send me copies of those notes as well? Thanks."
Annabeth turned to go up the stairs but didn't make it to the second step.
Annabeth cringed. It wasn't like she was trying to run away from the man.
"Yeah, Gibbs?" Annabeth said, expecting to be grilled on her display in the lab.
"What did you get on the missing person file that the Kahales submitted?"
What? Annabeth was disoriented. Oh, that! Right. "Um, it was a dead-end," she sputtered out, "Didn't lead anywhere."
Gibbs nodded and entered the elevator, leaving her to breathe out a sigh of relief on her own.
Ziva and Clarisse sat in the observation room, watching Patricia Kahale shift in interrogation.
"What is it with this woman? I cannot believe that she is involved," Ziva said.
"We don't know that for sure," Clarisse grunted, "It would seem straightforward to have Tarsibo be the murderer, and that's what I would prefer it to be."
"I would have preferred there to be no murder at all!" Ziva retorted.
"Well, we can't have everything," Clarisse mumbled.
The door opened, and Gibbs and Annabeth walked in.
"She call for a lawyer?" Gibbs asked.
"No," Ziva answered.
"Alright, let's go get some answers," Gibbs said.
"I can go in there if you want," Clarisse offered. "I'm pretty good at interrogation," she adds after Gibbs gave her a dubious look.
"What are we thinking?" Gibbs asked with a light, joking smirk, "Good cop, bad cop?"
Clarisse shrugged and brushed passed him. "As long as I'm not good cop."
She didn't wait to see if he would follow and entered the interrogation room.
"Agent La Rue," Mrs. Kahale said, "What a wonderful room you have here."
Clarisse grunted as she sat down and regarded the woman. She leaned in. "Your eyeliner is smudged," Clarisse mocked, pointing to her own face for emphasis. "Just there."
Patricia's lips turned into a thin line as she glowered at Clarisse.
Gibbs strode in with a file under his arm. Clarisse ignored his lifted eyebrow as she gave up her chair for him. He was the old man in the room, after all.
"Good evening, Mrs. Kahale," Gibbs greeted, "I am Special Agent Gibbs."
"Do you know why you're here?" Clarisse cut off, impatient.
"You think I had something to do with Michael's death."
Right on the money.
"You are just here for some basic questions," Gibbs reassured. He put the file on the edge of the table after grabbing a notation pamphlet from it. Clarisse took the hint and grabbed the file, rifling through it. She frowned. Not how she would have preferred, but she could definitely work with this.
"Where were you last night?" Gibbs opened up, starting his interrogation.
"Hm, around one to two in the morning."
"I was asleep with my husband."
Gibbs dedicatedly wrote her words down. Clarisse decided that she would also start on her part of the interrogation. She placed two photos down. She tried not to let her smirk show as Kahale's eyes widened at the change of direction.
"These are some interesting pictures, aren't they?" Clarisse noted, referring to two shots of Michael's body at the scene of the crime. One was a headshot highlighting the, well, headshot.
Mrs. Kahale shifted uncomfortably.
"How long did you know Michael, Mrs. Kahale?" Gibbs asked, unfazed by Clarisse's actions.
"About five or four years before he left," she answered.
"See," Clarisse explained, "The bullet went from the driver's side of another car, through the window of Michael's car, straight through his head." She lightly poked Mrs. Kahale's head.
Kahale threw daggers with the glare she sent Clarisse's way. Pretty good, but not even close to the level Clarisse was used to.
"What was he like back then?" Gibbs continued.
"Troublesome," Kahale responded, but her words sounded carefully placed. She paused, "He was just attracted to trouble. You know how some kids can get." She offered a smile. Gibbs gave a small one of his own and continued to write on his pad.
Not to be deterred by being ignored, Clarisse pressed on. "A nice clean kill. Amazing shot. Shooter had some incredible skill."
Kahale didn't spare her a glance but did try to defend herself. "I've never used-"
"Or luck," Gibbs commented, interrupting whatever it was that Kahale was going to say.
Clarisse frowned at him. What was he talking about?
"Killer had some great fortune. Must have spun the wheel and landed lucky."
Gibbs seemed to hit a spot. Clarisse saw Kahale's carotid artery pulsate rapidly. She didn't know where the old man was going with this, but she silently encouraged him to keep pressing this button.
"Hit any jackpots lately, Mrs. Kahale?" Clarisse asked with a grin.
Kahale stayed silent.
"Do you need something to drink?" Gibbs asked, with a look of concern. "I know the air in here can be really dry…"
"No, and I don't know what you are talking about," the woman said stiffly.
Gibbs smiled and held out his hand to Clarisse. She handed him the files and went to lean on the wall. Gibbs placed a photo of Marko Tarsibo down.
"Do you know this man?" Gibbs asked.
"Yes," Mrs. Kahale affirmed. Clarisse raised an eyebrow at the honesty. "Mr. Tarsibo is a client for the company I'm under."
Gibbs made a note of that.
"You know what your client did besides rent out luxury cars?" Clarisse questioned.
"His life outside the business was none of my concern," Kahale stated.
Gibbs pulled out more profiles, this time of the two kids, the unknown demigods.
This time, Clarisse didn't have to wait for Gibbs to even ask if she recognized them. The way the lady immediately averted her gaze and furled her fists were confirming enough.
"No," Kahale said to Gibbs's question, "I don't know them."
"Really?" Clarisse said, "You hardly took a glance; take a closer look."
Kahale grabbed the photos and made a show of inspecting each one. "So sorry," she asserted, looking straight into Clarisse's hardening eyes, "but I really don't recognize them."
Clarisse clenched her jaw. This infuriating piece of cyclops spit! "So sorry," Clarisse sneered back, "but I think you're lying."
"Well, too bad!" Patricia Kahale yelled and slammed her hands on the table. Clarisse grinned as she coaxed the feelings of anger to rise. "I don't care what you so happen to think! You have no idea what I've been through! What I've had to endure and do for my-
Kahale stopped abruptly, choking on her words. Her face slackened into a look of shock. And then a wave of rage, a real fury that Clarisse hadn't drawn, rolled off the woman. "You," she spat towards Clarisse. "How dare you, you brat! How dare you use that against me!" She pulled her composure, breathing heavily. "I'll need a lawyer if you wish to proceed to keep me here."
Gibbs nodded slightly, his eyes seeming to bore into Clarisse. "You'll be free to go, Mrs. Kahale."
Clarisse turned to go. She didn't wish to stay any longer. She silently cursed to herself. Well, if Mrs. Kahale didn't know demigods had infiltrated into federal agencies, she sure as Hades did now.
But, before she could leave, she had to say the final word. "He was a good soldier. A good man. You should be proud."
Annabeth walked out of the interrogation room, mind set on rebuking Clarisse, just to find Agent McGee waiting outside.
"Agent Lima!" the nerdy agent awkwardly greeted, "Is Gibbs in there with you?"
"He's finishing it up with Mrs. Kahale. What's up?"
"Abby made some progress and wanted to share before she leaves for the day."
They waited for both Clarisse and Gibbs to come out. McGee escorted Mrs. Kahale out while Clarisse and Agent David tagged along with Annabeth and Agent Gibbs.
They found Abby with Percy and Agent DiNozzo in the garage. A whole bunch of bits and bobs littered a scene that Annabeth deduced was to mimic Marko's High-Performance Cars of East Maryland.
"Oh, hey guys," Abby greeted with a quick glance, though she did a swift double take. "Woah, I love your shoes!" She exclaimed, "And epic hair!"
Wow. Annabeth had never heard someone compliment Clarisse's fashion style.
"You look killer! Like an MMA fighter. Sweet!" Abby's eyes were practically sparkling.
"Don't go stroking her already inflated ego," Percy told Abby.
"Shut it, Prissy! No one asked your pencil-thin form!"
"Hey! I'll have you know…"
"What have you got, Abbs?" Gibbs asked as the two demigods continued to squabble in the background.
"Okay, I IDed the kids." She pressed some keys on a laptop. "Meet Jeremy Swaller, an orphaned and missing twelve-year-old from Wisconsin, and Natasha Hibashira, a fourteen-year-old, Japanese-American from California. She disappeared from school records a couple months ago, and her only family connection is her mother. No father is mentioned."
Annabeth did not recognize the names or faces. She glanced at Clarisse, who had thankfully stopped her argument with Percy. But Annabeth only got a small shake of the head.
"McGee also cleaned up the images of their weapons. Now, I can't really say for sure, but I don't think the composition of their swords is the same as Michael Kahale's dagger. Theirs seems more golden."
"I also have got the crazy guy's things set up in here. I'm going to test and search for blood samples tomorrow after I take a field trip to his evil lair. You gotta get this horrible man, Gibbs!"
Gibbs started to reassure Abby, but Annabeth wasn't really paying attention as some things from Tarsibo's place grabbed her interest. And things suddenly made sense.
Annabeth picked up a flag. Freedom. Religion. Country. She knew this flag. How many times did she read about the Greek Revolution, the fight for independence against the Ottoman Empire? How many times did she try to teach all the information to bored demigods? She knew Botsaris. General Markos Botsaris.
"Marko Tarsibo…" How could she not have seen it before? It was glaring at her the entire time!
"What was that, Agent Lima?" Gibbs asked.
"Huh? Oh, nothing!"
Gibbs quirked an eyebrow but didn't say anything.
"So, what's our next move?" David asked Gibbs.
Gibbs released a breath. "Can't do anything more for today. Go home."
"Will do, Boss," DiNozzo said enthusiastically.
"Do all of you have arrangements for your stay?" David asked, directing her words towards the Long Islanders.
"Yeah," Annabeth answered, "We're good."
She saw Clarisse cross her arms.
Well, they'll find somewhere.
After saying their goodbyes, Annabeth's team moved out. They shared all the info they had each found. Annabeth took the initiative to scold Clarisse on manipulating Mrs. Kahale's negative emotions in front of the mortal investigators.
"You did what!?"
"Shut up and keep eating your shirt, Goat boy!"
And, after moving on to another hotel since they had an incident with a couple dracanae clerks in the first one, Annabeth ordered Grover and Clarisse to get some rest. Before she could get some much-needed rest of her own, she wanted to go somewhere. She asked Percy to drive her to a specific address.
"You sure you don't want me to go in with you?" Percy said as he rolled to a stop.
"I'll be fine. I'm sure he's not a monster in disguise."
"If you're sure…"
Annabeth kissed him. "I'll be right back."
'Famous last words.' Annabeth shook the thought out of her head as she moved towards the entrance.
Annabeth knocked. She waited a bit before steeling herself and opening the door. It was open just like she knew it would be. A creak in the next room made her freeze in her tracks.
A light flickered on. Gibbs was there on a couch, with a meager, ragged blanket and a depressing looking pillow.
Annabeth hesitated. "I'm sorry. Were you sleeping?"
The older man shook his head with a sigh. "No."
"I asked Director Vance where I could find you for a talk. He said that your door was always open."
Gibbs lightly scoffed. Hopefully, the Director wouldn't get too mad at Annabeth for giving him up like that, but she felt that Gibbs would appreciate honesty. He motioned for her to sit as he shuffled into his kitchen.
"I know you don't really trust me, and that's fine. Really. I'm okay with having to earn trust. But with everything that happened today, between the rental car guy and Mrs. Kahale, I wanted to see if I could help mend our relationship."
"Nothing broken to fix."
Annabeth would have to disagree.
He came back with a bottle of beer in each hand.
"No, thank you," Annabeth declined.
"No, Percy is. I'd just rather not."
Gibbs shrugged and took a sip from his bottle, getting comfortable on his couch again.
"What's your relationship with him?"
"He's my boyfriend."
"Already breaking my rules."
"Really? Which one?"
"Never date a co-worker."
"Good thing that he was just a friend that just happened to work with me."
Gibbs chortled and lightly shook his head.
Annabeth grinned. "How many of these rules do you have?"
"Oh, about 50."
"You have them written down somewhere?"
"Guess I'll just have to write them on my pillow, then," Annabeth joked, "Learn via diffusion."
Annabeth didn't know if she imagined the chuckle Gibbs gave turn a little flat.
Gibbs fiddled with the bottle. "What did you gather from Abby?"
Annabeth exhaled. "I was going through Michael's notes and found the name 'Botsaris.'"
"Not exactly, Markos Botsaris was a General during the Greek War of Independence in 1821. I recognized the flags that Tarsibo had in his office. They were Greek flags. The one that represents Greece today, the one from the First Hellenic Republic, the Freedom or Death flag, and most importantly, the flag of Saint George slaying a drakon."
"The General was a revolutionary. He raised the St. George flag in Western Greece before the war really started."
"And how are Marko the businessman and Markos the General related?"
"Just a theory," Annabeth said, although she was almost certain.
"I'll hear it."
"If you take an 'S' away from 'Markos,' it becomes 'Marko.' And if you take an 'S' away from 'Botsaris'…"
"Then you can rearrange it to make 'Tarsibo,'" Gibbs finished. "An anagram."
Gibbs took a deep breath. "Ancient Greek heroes and flags; the freaking writing; Roman goddesses and symbols; Mexican cartels. What is going on?"
Annabeth took a look at the scene before her. Dimly lit room, beer bottles, and a lived-in couch. It's a big place to live by yourself. Especially if you're an old man who seems to have nothing except his occupation.
"Hey," Annabeth asked nervously, "Do you need any company tonight?"
He looked over to her. He seemed to know exactly what she was thinking. "Nah, I'm fine, kid. Go get some sleep. You'll need it."
"So will you," Annabeth retorted. She softened up. "I'm glad I was able to have this talk, Gibbs."
"My door's always open, Lima."
"I'll keep that in mind. Thanks."
"And Lima," Gibbs called, "How old are you, really?"
Annabeth looked him in the eye. "Twenty-six. Have a nice night, Gibbs. See you tomorrow."