Old Friends
08. Rule 39
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~

Martha studied the medical examiner’s report of the female panda so violently ripped apart. According to the ME notes, he had found a total of thirteen “mosquito-like insects covered in a viscous fluid” scattered around the bear’s body. It was the Mayfly and it sent Martha’s stomach churning and her spine tingling with the memory of thousands of insects embraced in a cannibalistic swarm in her stomach. In her short stint with Torchwood, she had gone undercover as a medical trial volunteer and ended up with an alien life form injected into her system: Reset. AIDS, diabetes, cancer- Reset would destroy any disease or irregularity found in the test subjects and give them perfect vital signs, but the ravenous bug looking aliens would eventually destroy their carrier as well. As far as Martha knew, she’d been the only test subject to carry the Mayfly to full term. If Torchwood shut the Pharm down and destroyed all traces of the drug Reset, who was experimenting with the Mayfly now? And if they were testing Reset for humans, why use livestock and other animals?

The young UNIT commander studied the reports from the surviving panda, wondering how long the Mayfly would survive in this latest test subject. She needed answers and knew of only one other person who was looking into the case. She’d been awaiting his call since she landed in D.C. a day ago. When her private cell phone rang, she assumed it was him and didn’t hesitate to answer.

“Oi, Jack! Nice of you to drop a line, mate! What happened to ‘I need your help, I’ll call you as soon as you’re stateside!’?”

“Martha? It’s Nikki! What’s going on? Who’s Jack? You mean Ca-”

“A lot, actually. I’m kind of busy at the moment, Nic, got a new assignment-“

“About that, Martha, can you stop by the Navy yard for lunch?”

“Who’s listening in? This have anything to do with those bossy NCIS agents I ran into this morning? Hello, Gibbs,” Martha Jones sighed, really too busy to deal with interagency politics- especially when her agency wasn’t supposed to exist.

“You stole our crime scene, doctor. It should be the director calling you,” Gibbs informed in a dry tone.

“Director Vance would never call me to question a UNIT operation. And if he did, he wouldn’t use m’ cousin, Agent Gibbs. He would have called me ’imself,” Martha’s words were clipped and heavily accented as she looked at troublesome medical files, annoyed by the NCIS sneak attack. She wished she could scream; sometimes saving the planet from alien threats was a bit overwhelming and today, Martha needed a break. She had already autopsied Jodie Connor and, short of staring at the male panda as he incubated the Mayfly, there was little else she could do until Jack called with more clues. Martha thought about how she missed running around in civvies, even if her civilian clothes were a bit more formal these days. She checked her pocket for the psychic paper she knew was there. “I suppose they can manage without me for the afternoon. See you soon, Nic.” Martha hung up and tossed her phone in a drawer, vowing never to answer it again. Unless, of course, it was Jack.

~

“Ummm… Classic military jacket and pencil skirt… Prada?”

“Good guess, McGee but no.” Ziva eyed the flawless lady as she walked from the director’s office with Agent Jardine talking animatedly beside her and Gibbs fuming behind them. “That signature precision cut has been a trademark of the collection since 1975, that my friend is-“

“None other than Giorgio Armani. The foundation of a great silhouette. Not that Dr. Jones doesn’t have a great silhouette all by her pretty little self,” Tony noted, grinning as the ladies reached the landing and smiled their way. The MCRT made no pretense of doing work or not gossiping. They all stood huddled together, Ziva standing between McGee’s and DiNozzo’s desks, all three looking up past the screen to the staircase. The women passed and suddenly Gibbs was glaring at them. Ziva darted back to her desk as she whispered across the bullpen.

“What do you got?” He looked at McGee then DiNozzo, but they were both fumbling around.

“Ah, I got nowhere with the back-trace of the hacker who fixed the files, but what a hack- a classic Trojan horse actually infecting several government systems they should not have been able to crack,” McGee beamed as if he didn’t just say he had nothing. Before he could continue, Tony picked up as if what he’d just said didn’t matter. Tim didn’t mind; he had an idea.

“Jodie Conner. No family, no friends, no life. No calls on her cell phone in the last two weeks and she has no home phone-“

“That sounds like Jodie.” Martha agreed solemnly. “She works a lot and probably socializes with people on the job. Our officers can’t even carry cell phones and they’re often away from home for weeks at a time. Her life probably seems dull, but looks can be deceiving Special Agent DiNozzo. I bet your personal life is less than spectacular, despite what you tell your coworkers- you look like you’re married to your job underneath that flirtatious facade,” Martha laughed at the assessing look agent DiNozzo gave her, knowing she was spot on. Gibbs smiled too, but nobody noticed since it disappeared before it was even there, replaced by a grimace and an ornery snap.

“Well?” he demanded, looking at his team, finally settling on DiNozzo who couldn’t seem to maintain eye contact. It was Ziva who spoke up as she hung up the phone.

“Ducky has not been able to determine what dismembered Jodie Collins, but he should be calling us down soon.” She paused, hoping someone else would jump in. “And we know that Mei-Xiang died mysteriously just yesterday afternoon and Jodie Collins is caught on camera entering the park in a laundry service truck fourteen hours later at five am, she is soon found dead in the panda habitat. This is no coincidence.”

“What are you suggesting, David?” Gibbs growled, interested in any idea that got him closer to Jodie Collins and whatever killed her. The Israeli seemed to be choosing her words carefully so McGee jumped in from where he sat pecking away at his keyboard as Ziva stalled.

“Boss, I think Ziva is pointing out that since the panda’s death is obviously related to Conner’s, we need to know what happened to that bear.” McGee was sure his idea would work if he could stall for a few more seconds as he searched. His fingers kept typing and he kept talking, “We know it’s a cover up since there is absolutely no data available which is more than some government agency confiscating the zoo’s surveillance. The National Zoo is one of the most visited national parks in the nation. Someone was bound to have seen or recorded something… Well, I can tell you that Mei-Xiang’s rather violent death went viral sometime in the last twenty four hours,” McGee said, punching a few keys so that the flat screen showed a bamboo filled corner of the panda habitat. Behind leaves the bear roared and beat the wall which crumpled disturbingly since it was supposed to look like rock. A sudden pop is heard and presumably guts fly out of the bear as she howls piteously. “Wait, it’s been caught by two other smart phones but only this one had the initial explosion. From this angle you can see it clearly looks like blood and guts and Mei-Xiang appears to be dying… dead. What are those, insects?” McGee asked as the video ended.

“Mommy always said there were no monsters- not real ones- but there are,” Tony stood, staring at the flat screen in awe. “Aliens? The first one from ’86- not one of those god awful sequels,” Tony babbled when everyone except Tim looked confused. Martha looked at him suspiciously then sighed.

“I thought we confiscated all the data,” Martha stared at the screen as she absently mumbled.

“What happened to that bear?” Gibbs demanded.

“Something was living inside her and it wanted out,” Martha murmured but Gibbs understood her perfectly.

“And Jodie Connor?” Gibbs’s voice was gruff but somehow gentle in response to Martha’s obvious remorse.

“That’s why I’m here, Special Agent Gibbs: to let you know that I’m going to find out what happened to Jodie, and when I do, I’m gonna make things right,” Martha said.

“Jodie Connor is dead, doctor. How are you gonna ‘make things right’?” Gibbs grumbled, pissed off by the young girl’s naïve vow.

“You’d be surprised Special Agent Gibbs.”

“This way,” was all he said as he walked away from the bullpen, beckoning Martha to follow him. Agent Jardine moved behind Martha until Gibbs stopped short. “Stay.”

Tony stood to follow them but thought better of it when he was pinned to his chair by a patented Gibbs glare. “I’ll just wait here and do some old fashioned cop work,” he smiled, totally oblivious to anything besides Gibbs’s nod of agreement. Tony didn’t notice Tim’s surreptitious texting so he didn’t suspect anything when Tim answered his phone then hung up.

“Abby needs you, Tony.” McGee said, going back to his search.

“Good. Anything to get out of the peanut gallery,” he said, jumping up and heading to Abby’s lab.

The bullpen was silent until the elevator doors slid closed and Tony was gone. “Well?” McGee asked, looking expectantly at Agent Jardine.

“The thing is, rule 39,” she explained, knowing McGee would understand.

“Ah. There is no such thing as coincidence- a very good rule for any investigator,” Agent David agreed. “What is not a coincidence?”

“Well, I came to tell you guys that I was going over that research you asked me about a few weeks ago and someone has deleted and redacted all those files. I just got this strange feeling that something is going on and it concerns Tony. When I heard about Jodie Connor’s files- I bet it’s just like what happened with all these records I’ve been looking for,” Jardine explained, looking back and forth between Tim and Ziva, trying to convince them something was going on. “Look, it’s like you were saying, McGee, this hacker is unlike any other. First, he can get into some of the best protected governmental databases in the world then he does it in a way that no other hacker has before. Am I right? Somehow the firewalls are all intact and the systems hacked left-“

“In even better condition than they were before the hack.” McGee was starting to agree.
“Exactly,” Jardine said, but David was still skeptical. It was sounding like these were two very distinctive infiltrations, but Tim couldn’t begin to fathom how Tony’s information could possibly be related to the Connor case.

“Okay. But why is our hacker connected with information related to Tony? You didn’t know we had a hacker before you came up. What made you so concerned, Nikki?” Ziva wondered.

“I don’t know exactly. In some of the older English medical files there’s a reference to a “spontaneously generating orifice”- only once or twice, but I could never find out exactly what that was. At first it just seemed weird and there was no explanation for it, so I just told you about the illness which seemed a lot more relevant at the time,” she explained. “But now, there’s some mysterious genetic mutation and illness in Tony’s past and you’re working on a case involving equally mysterious deaths and someone out there is trying to cover up all of it,” she explained, hoping that Ziva wouldn’t point out that Nikki didn’t know about the case either.

“Well, when you put it like that,” McGee relented, beginning to believe there actually was a connection here. It was at least worth a look.

~

Derrick Morgan gave a private sigh of relief as he watched the handsome man in the BAU interrogation room. The case was far from over, but at least they’d caught their man and Morgan would be sleeping in his own bed tonight. With the company of a certain young doctor, he hoped. But the case was weird. And the suspect was even weirder. They had no doubt that he was guilty… of something, but exactly what was still a bit questionable. The handsome man who was all jokes and innuendo claimed to be innocent even though they had him on video slicing a man open and taking something from his chest. It was too bad the man was already a cold slab in the Silver Spring morgue. Still, while they couldn’t exactly charge him with murder yet, they were diligently working on connecting the suspect to 13 identical murders nationwide.

It had been over six weeks since Derek had left Tony in Eliot’s capable hands and he was more than a bit concerned when he called that first Monday to find that Eliot had left DC and Tony. Gibbs answered Tony’s phone brusquely, saying Tony was resting and he would have him call Morgan back when he awoke. When Tony finally spoke to Derrick, the FBI agent could tell his friend was beating himself up over the way he let Eliot leave. It wouldn’t have been so bad except that after a week, Tony still hadn’t heard from Eliot. Somehow, he found spare moments to do his own searching and what he found wasn’t good. Morgan had contacted Nathan Ford and got a cryptic tale about how Eliot had walked into the woods and never came back. That could mean anything from Eliot was grieving over a broken heart to Eliot has just been killed. Just when Derek thought he’d have to make a house call, someone called him. She talked fast and sounded angry but before he could ask any questions, she handed the phone to someone she called Hardison who, after bitching about the fact that she gave his “government” name to the FBI, proceeded to ramble about government conspiracies and alien abductions in Montana. From what this Hardison said, Morgan guessed that Eliot had contacted his team, but he couldn’t make out much more than that. There was something about not knowing Jack and Eliot finding Nathan with Jack’s help. Morgan was pretty sure this Hardison was a quack.

That was weird, but this was weirder. The team had been breathing down the suspect’s neck for the past three weeks and had even gone through the motions of a several chases. Each one ended without a capture until they caught up with him in the morgue and there had been nowhere for the suspect to run. And then there was the interrogation which almost made Derek laugh when he thought about it; he’d never seen Hotchner blush, but the suspect was one cheeky bastard who apparently had a taste for authority figures. Now, Morgan watched Reed enter the room with the dashing suspect, watching as the icy blue eyes roved over the boyishly thin form of the young genius. Derek hated throwing Dr. Reed in with the maniac, but they were all hoping Reed would get further than himself or Hotchner had gotten so far. If not, they’d have to put the deranged man in a cell and start fresh tomorrow. It was only 9:30, but the whole team was tired. After weeks of chasing a guy who would sometimes just vanish when he ran out of inventive ways to elude them, the BAU was due a break. He watched Reed make himself comfortable in the seat across from the suspect and held his breath.

“They don’t know what to do with me,” he laughed wearily.

“Who’s ‘they’?” Reed asked, looking through his notes before looking up and making eye contact?

“They. The ubiquitous ‘them’. You.”

“Me? I know exactly what to do with you, Mr.Harkness-“

“Aww, c’mon, a pretty boy like you- call me Captain Jack- I insist,” he leered, leaning across the table suggestively.

“But you’re not a captain. The only record we find of a Captain Jack Harkness is from WWII- he was part of the allied forces. Why did you choose his name? What’s your real name?”

“That’s the only name I have.” It sounded like truth. There was silence in the room and Reed figured he should move on to something else.

“You say that you haven’t killed anyone-“

“Oi! I never said that! I said I didn’t kill these people- let’s keep the story straight.”

“So who have you killed, Captain Jack?”

“Oh, now you’re just patronizing me. I think I like it.”

“Is everything a joke to you?” Reed demanded in a stern, if calm voice and his captive could sense the seriousness of the young man.

“If you can’t laugh at yourself… Look, I’m not the guy you’re looking for. In fact, you’re not even looking for a guy but- I’ll be honest here since you seem like the thinker of the group- this is way above your pay grade. I mean, if we were in Cardiff, there would’ve been a nice cover up and Torchwood would’ve handled all these infested cadavers-“

“Infested. What type of infestation?”

“Alien. Nah, I’m just kidding,” Jack laughed, staring at the doctor and wondering what the kid really believed.

“What is Torchwood?”

“Torchwood doesn’t exist. If it did, I wouldn’t be here.”

“So you admit that this alien fighting agency is a fiction, yet you still claim you’re not responsible for the murders,” Reed summed up the situation.

“I admit no such thing. Torchwood isn’t fictional. It’s just… defunct and, let’s face it, those bodies are nothing nice or normal. Do you really think I did something to cause all those varying stages of decay? Have your medical examiners even figured out what’s wrong with those bodies or have they just been quarantined? They probably took one look at the slimiest corpse and called the crematorium.”

“What happened to those people? You seem to know a lot about what’s going on. Fill me in, Captain Jack,” Reid said, wanting to keep the man talking. He found it interesting that he had no idea if the man was telling the truth or not. Indeed, he could be a pathological liar, but that didn’t seem right either.

“Their bodies broke down after hosting a foreign life form. I was strictly on a retrieval mission, trying to make sure these hitchhikers didn’t find their way into another host,” he said with a straight face so that Reid almost believed him. “It doesn’t matter. Why don’t we hang it up for tonight boys,” he suggested, looking toward the mirror in front of him. “It’s kind of late, so I guess my friend won’t make it tonight, but I promise I’ll be out of your hair tomorrow bright and early. We’ll find the rest of the hosts and go about our thankless way-“ Jack paused when the door opened.

“Thank you, Dr. Reid. This interview is over,” Morgan said from the half opened door.

“So soon? I was just starting to like the young Dr. Reid. Stay awhile,” Jack said, impulsively reaching out to stroke Spenser’s hand where it lay on the table. Morgan bristled at the door, but caught himself before exploding.

“He’s leaving and so are you. Your chariot awaits,” Morgan said, stepping into the room to reveal a petite woman in an expensive suit.

“Prickly. I like that. He’s adorable, but you are sun-kissed-sexy SSA Morgan. How about a threesome, boys?” Jack gave his most irresistible grin first to Dr. Reid who was obviously interested and trying to cover it up. Reid looked at Morgan apologetically but Derek just reassured him with a smile then gave Jack a cold, if appreciative glance. It was meant to be condescending, but Jack had hundreds of years to understand the subtleties of the language of the heart. “Oh. It’s a private party. Fine. Be that way. There’s bound to be other pretty boys in my fu-“

“Jack! Here I am coming to your rescue and I find you hitting on the FBI!”

“Forget about the boys and bring on the lovely ladies! If it isn’t my second favorite doctor, Martha Jones. What are you doing stateside?” Jack gushed, feigning ignorance.

“The same thing you’re doing, I imagine. Let’s get out of here,” she said, escorting him from the room and finding it easy to ignore the fuming agents as Jack’s infectious personality held all her attention.

“Okay, but you really could’ve left me overnight. All those hot men taking their jobs so seriously… I was kind of looking forward to them getting rough with me-“

“Behave, Jack,” she warned, swatting his arm so that he smiled and hugged her.

“I missed you. A lot,” he whispered that last part as if the revelation surprised him.

“Well, I’m a big time Commander now. No time for you little people,” she joked to lighten the mood, but she knew Jack was alone. It was why she was at Quantico at 10pm; there was nobody coming for Captain Jack Harkness. The least she could do was get him out of FBI custody before they really started researching and asking serious questions. She knew if they ever found out that Jack wasn’t normal, she’d never get him out of FBI custody. “Let’s get out of here,” Martha said, leading the way.

The BAU team watched in silence as the handsome couple chatted and strolled out of their grasp. Hotchner and Rossi both watched from on high, Hotchner from his office and Rossi from the walkway. Anger did not begin to cover how Hotchner felt and Morgan wasn’t far behind him. It was Penelope who rushed in to watch the mystery man dash off with the English doctor handing out diplomatic immunity. “OMG! I missed him! I was so busy pinging that I let him slip through my fingers! Oh please tell me Torchwood is real,” she begged, looking around the room. “I mean, he’s so obviously crazy, but in a good way, right? And-what’s that cologne he’s wearing?”

“He claims it’s 51st century hormones,” Reid said, remembering the matter of fact way Harkness told him, “but I’m sure that was a joke,” he added after looking guiltily at Derek.

“Let’s call it a night, people. We just lost our killer but something tells me he’s only a piece to the puzzle. We’ve got a team on surveillance so go home. We regroup tomorrow, bright and early,” Hotchner said, looking down on his team.

“You heard the man. Chop-chop, baby girl- I’m walking you to your car and I was ready to leave two hours ago,” Derrick said, pulling on his blazer. Reid slowly packed his shoulder bag, timing everything just right so that he was on the elevator with Garcia and Morgan a few minutes later.