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Fic: Marine Knots Part 4

Ziva heard the staccato of footsteps running behind her, following her down the alley littered with spent bullet shells. She thought that Gibbs was on her tail. She pointed to blood splatter and a pool of blood. “There should be another corpse there.”

Gibbs grunted in understanding, then all of a sudden, Raith sped by her and raced ahead. He missed the doorway that Dresden and Ziva had taken cover in, but quickly spotted it and somehow knew. Raith slid –nearly to his hands and knees- as he changed directions and then he shot into the abandoned diner storage area. Ziva and Gibbs were right on his tail.

They saw Raith run by the outer broken door, yet another pool of blood missing its corpse, the inner broken door and the final blood pool sans body. Ziva pointed out each one to Gibbs as they ran by. Then their main suspect jumped the diner’s countertop and landed lightly on the other side. He looked around frantically, swore and shouted, “Harry!” A pause. “Harry! Damn you!

Ziva didn’t hear a response but Raith ran out another door to the outside. The NCIS agents –trying to avoid contaminating the scene- followed.

“What is he doing here?” she asked breathlessly.

“He threatened to kill if he wasn’t included and Dresden got hurt.”

Ziva blinked and then skidded to a stop, nearly falling over Detective Murphy who was hovering over an unconscious Dresden. She was applying pressure; her shoulder holster was visible as her jacket was covering Dresden’s chest. Or rather it had been until Raith had started checking Dresden’s body for wounds. Dresden groaned when Raith touched his ribs and his shoulder.

Gibbs already had his phone out. “Ducky. Skip the civilians and get to the back. Dresden needs immediate attention.”

“Ducky is a coroner,” Raith spat.

“He’s a doctor first,” Gibbs responded. “We go to him when we get hurt. Dresden’ll be in good hands.”

Murphy smirked slightly and it made her face look macabre and young with a smear of blood across one cheek. “He’ll be comfortable with a coroner taking care of him.”

“How’d you get here so fast,” Gibbs questioned her.

Murphy jerked her head the dog’s way. “Mouse came and got me.”

Gibbs took the comment at face value for the moment. Ducky had arrived and had taken control of the situation. Within moments, he had sent Palmer to the van to drive it around the buildings and park it at the other entrance of the alley, on the far side of the construction. Soon after, Dresden was on a gurney, covered, strapped in with his feet elevated, an IV in his arm and on his way toward someplace warm and safe. Murphy and Raith crowded Ducky at every turn and even climbed into the van before it had a chance to pull out. Even Dresden’s dog hopped in and refused to be left behind.

Ziva and Gibbs watched them go.

“He threatened to kill if he wasn’t included and Dresden got hurt?” Ziva repeated. “And you brought him?”

Gibbs thought about it and then decided to let Ziva in on his reasoning. “We all knew that he didn’t kill Miller and that it was a set-up. We knew it was probably a trap. The fact that Dresden was targeted lets Raith off the hook. If we hadn’t brought him along or not released him, just then, someone would be dead. Raith would have killed someone before we would be able to put a bullet in him. This way, I kept all of my team alive and kept an eye on Raith.”

Ziva considered it. She spied her gun where Dresden’s feet had been and retrieved it. She checked the magazine and saw that Dresden hadn’t fired a shot. Good, that meant that Ziva hadn’t done something stupid like faint. But how did she miss someone coming and picking up six bodies? How had they managed to leave no witnesses?

Gibbs grabbed her arm and steered her toward the diner. “Walk me through everything.”

Ziva decided to start at the beginning. She and Gibbs talked through the first couple shots and the first three should-be corpses. When Ziva started mentioning the third corpse and her bloody arm, she remembered the three AK’s that she had removed from the initial crime scene on the street.

Gibbs yelled for Tony to bring gauze, antiseptic and tape while Ziva directed Gibbs’ attention to the three guns by the dumpster. While the lack of body in the alley included a lack of weaponry, as did the pools of blood in the warehouse, these three guns were exactly where Ziva had left them. Whoever had tried to cover up the hit job hadn’t stuck around to try and find where the weaponry had disappeared to. It wasn’t convenient and so the accomplices had left without the guns.

By disturbing the crime scene, Ziva had saved them something to work with.

Gibbs took the first-aid items from Tony and then sent the agent back to the evidence van so that he could bag and tag the guns.

As Gibbs was cleaning her wound, Ziva asked, “Have you ever heard of Renfields?”

Gibbs paused and then shook his head.

Tony spoke up from behind them, “Is that some weird Israeli slang?”

“No,” Ziva said. “It was what Dresden called the men. Gibbs, these men didn’t even look at me after I shot the first one in the arm.” She thought about it. “They never even looked at me when I shot one of them dead,” she realized. “They were so focused on Dresden that I didn’t exist, neither did the dog after it killed the first one. I asked Dresden about them and he called them Renfields. He said that they are ‘people irreversibly, psychologically tortured to the point where their torturers will give them simple –destructive- orders and they’ll obey blindly, to the exclusion of all else.’”

Tony winced and even Gibbs reacted. Ziva couldn’t quantify Gibbs’ reaction and Gibbs himself brushed off the information and demanded that Ziva continue narrating the attempted murder. Ziva complied. She mentioned how Dresden was very good at picking locks and how he was stupidly gentlemanly, using his body to shield the Mossad agent. She emphasized how the Renfields had put themselves in harms way to complete their goal. Back in the diner and using their flashlights, they could see slight footprints and streaks in the dust where Dresden’s dog had apparently pulled his master outside.

Dresden’s dog had probably saved his life. When whoever it had been had picked up the corpses, they hadn’t been able to find Dresden and finish the job.

“Anything else?” Gibbs asked.

“Concerning?” Ziva wasn’t sure what her boss wanted to know.

“Dresden, Raith, the Renfields. Dresden and Raith aren’t going to tell us anything and we still have Miller’s murder to solve. We know that Miller was collateral damage, but we have to prove it. And we don’t know who sent the Renfields. I need your observations.”

Ziva voiced the first idea that came to mind. “Dresden’s got a really good physical therapist. His left hand should be useless, if not amputated.”

Gibbs was surprised. He reviewed his memory and could only recall a leather glove on Dresden’s left hand. That hand had been as mobile and flexible as the right. “How did he get it hurt?”

“My guess? Torture,” Ziva offered her expert opinion. “It looked like someone stuck his hand into boiling oil. Dresden’s also quite good at field dressings and knows how to handle a gun.”

“He’s got his conceal and carry permit and a weapon registered in his name.”

Ziva nodded. It made sense. “What type of weapon?”

“A revolver, a big one.”

Now she frowned. “A limited number of bullets and horrible reload time. I can understand how he would like a gun that fits his larger hands, but I think he’s in a war. I have never seen any group so good at scene clean-up. This puts Mossad to shame. A revolver doesn’t make sense; it’s not the gun you want in the middle of a gun battle… Unless it’s his back-up weapon?”

Gibbs shook his head. “It’s the only gun registered to him.” He had thought the same thing. Now he started sharing information that they had learned while she had been tailing Dresden. “Murphy flew to DC. Dresden drove.”

“Dresden brought the dog and anything they couldn’t get through airport security,” Ziva surmised.


“While they’re in the hospital, do you want someone to pick up their arsenal?”

“I don’t think I want to disarm the side that’s not shooting at the by-standers, yet. This wasn’t the first attempt on Dresden’s life. It won’t be the last.”

“Should someone have gone with Ducky and Palmer to the hospital?”

Gibbs considered it. “Hopefully, they’ll be fine in transit. Both Murphy and Raith are predisposed to keeping Dresden alive. And Murphy’s armed and Raith’s dangerous. I’ll call about getting guards at the hospital.”

Tony and McGee walked into the abandoned diner with their investigation kits. “Everything else is processed, Boss. The bystanders have all been taken to the local hospital. You want to do in here?”

“No,” Gibbs countered. “You do it. Ziva, take the spare camera and record anything that will spark your memory. Anything that might be a clue, especially to how they managed to remove all the corpses. Anyone who could remove corpses with no witnesses could have easily killed the same way. We will be recreating and reenacting this whole thing several times.”

“Just so long as I don’t have to be one of the crazies that Ziva kills,” Tony joked. “Where did the bad guys come up with so many, anyway?”

“They made them,” said Gibbs.

“But the men had to come from somewhere and six of them? Somebody’s got to be missing them.”

It was a good point, but Gibbs wasn’t going to admit it aloud; DiNozzo was still on his blacklist. “Ziva, after you’re done with the camera, spend some time with the sketch artist. See if we can’t get some pictures of these men.”

Ziva nodded. “Hopefully, Abby will be able to get fingerprints off of the guns.”

“And the brass,” McGee added tiredly. “There’s a lot of brass. They might have prepped it themselves.”

“There’s more brass in here. Bag and tag it,” Gibbs ordered. He walked out the door with his cell phone in hand. Ziva presumed that he was calling the hospital to arrange for Dresden’s protective detail. A few minutes later, the team heard his terse voice say, “What do you mean, Dr. Mallard and patient hasn’t arrived?”

Tony palmed his phone and called Ducky. McGee palmed his cell phone and called Abby. Tony was listening to Ducky’s phone ring and ring and ring. Abby, on the other hand, picked up half way through the first ring.

“What do you have for me, McGee-ster?”

“Abby, you need to track the GPS on the NCIS morgue van. Now.”

“On it. Ducky’s lost?”

“Ducky and Palmer, Dresden, Murphy and Raith.”

“Which one is dead?”

“None of them. They were supposed to be rushing Dresden to the hospital.”

“I bet Ducky got a kick out of that. It probably reminded him on how the first ambulances were mortuary cars.”

“Abby,” McGee said as he looked worriedly at the scowling Gibbs.

“Working on it. Anyone try calling them?”

“Tony called Ducky. No answer.”



“Sorry. That was odd. It was as if the computer dropped the trace. It fizzed out on me. Trying it again.”


“Hurrying. But you know that I can’t rush these things. When did you start sounding like Gibbs?”

“Since people started killing Marines to trap Chicago-ians. And crazy dead people started disappearing right and left.”

In the midst of all the mayhem, Gibbs’ phone rang. Everyone paused.

Gibbs frowned at the unfamiliar number but answered the call. “Gibbs.” A pause and then he relaxed incrementally. “Ducky. What happened?”


The hunger was a pressing urgency, always at the back of my mind. Worrying about Harry helped a little, oddly enough. It gave me something to think about other than the proximity of Karrin, warm and female next to me. She would be so good in bed, flexible and passionate, and she would taste so good when I ate her up. The strong ones were always the best. Someone like Karrin would last for years if properly managed.

Getting into the front of the van was a relief. It had been days since I’d fed and Karrin was the kind of temptation that was almost impossible to ignore. She was also the kind of temptation that would get me killed if I gave in, and I knew it. Harry was my brother, and that was incredibly important to both of us, but Karrin was something more. The idiot was willing to throw himself in front of a grenade to protect her.

I could hear the chaos in the back as the coroner and Karrin worked to save my idiot brother’s life. Mouse was back there as well, which made me feel a little safer. Maybe I’d been spending too much time with Harry, but I trusted that my brother’s dog wouldn’t let anything happen to him or Karrin, even if I was the danger in this situation.

The nerdy, nervous assistant was talking to me, but it was hard to pull my attention away from what was happening in the back of the van. Neither one of them sounded panicked, but then Karrin was one of the most controlled people I knew and the coroner didn’t seem like the type to let those kinds of things show. Mouse stood silent guard over the proceedings, staying as unobtrusive as a dog that large can be.

Finally Karrin looked up at me and nodded. I relaxed the tiniest bit, because it meant that Harry was stable and it was time to take care of the next step.

We both knew that my brother couldn’t be taken to the hospital, for any number of reasons. It was dangerous to both him and anyone else in the surrounding area. Karrin and Harry had managed to come up with a backup plan sometime after he’d been shot, and now it was time to set that plan into motion.


Jimmy Palmer was a nervous man. He always was. He liked dead people because he made so many less faux pas’s around them. He was already jittery around Raith since Michelle had been practically swooning over him. One part of him was jealous by how much Michelle had talked about the suspect while another part knew that Raith’s lover was in the back of the NCIS van extremely hurt. So was Jimmy jealous or sympathetic? He didn’t know and Raith wasn’t making anything easier with his growls and turnings around to watch Murphy and Ducky work on Dresden.

And when Jimmy got nervous or weirded out, he started talking and couldn’t stop. He knew that he was babbling now, but Raith was ignoring him.

“Ducky’s a good doc,” he was trying to reassure the lead suspect. “Really, he’s great. I’m sure that he could have had a wonderful business if he had wanted to work on live people but he doesn’t. Doesn’t want to, that is. I don’t know why.”

“Can the doctor fix him on his own?” Raith interrupted. “If we get caught in traffic?”

“Sure, Ducky can do anything,” Jimmy said. “But don’t worry, it doesn’t look like we are going to have a problem with traffic at all. That’s why I’m using these side streets. We’re only ten blocks away from the hospital. It’s a good hospital and they’ll help Ducky take care of him.” Jimmy stopped at a stop sign. He offered a wry grin to Raith. “It wouldn’t do to get in a wreck this close and with your friend needing help.”

Something happened. Jimmy had no idea what, but next thing he knew, his face was smashed against the driver’s side window and his hands were stuffed in his mouth. There was a pressure on Jimmy’s legs and someone –Raith? was steering the van. Jimmy wasn’t getting enough oxygen and black dots danced in front of his eyes. The next thing he knew (he was losing a lot of time on this trip), the van was parked and Jimmy was on the floor between the two front seats. His hands were tied behind his back and his head was stuffed by the driver’s pedals, so he couldn’t see anyone or thing or move. There was fabric in Jimmy’s mouth that he couldn’t remove or spit out.

He heard a murmur of “Congo,” “gas,” and “ten block radius.” Jimmy waited and waited. He heard sounds of someone moving in the back of the van, but was it Ducky? Or was it Lieutenant Murphy? Did they know that something had happened to him? Did they think he was dead? Was it better if Raith thought he was dead? Where was Raith? Should Jimmy move or wait? Move or wait?

Jimmy waited. And waited.

And waited.


The house was big and the kind of old that spoke of money rather than necessity. Thomas and the coroner’s assistant had manhandled Harry into the kitchen, turning the kitchen table into a makeshift operating table. I was pressed into service as a nurse, something I was never letting Harry know about, and ended up handing Dr. Mallard tools that had been hastily sanitized in a pot of boiling water on his stove. The doctor (“Call me Ducky, my dear”) told a rambling story about something that had happened early in his career that was somehow calming. He was a very steady presence as he worked, which made me happy, and his house was also off the beaten path and incredibly low-tech, which made it easy to secure. Agent Gibbs and his team had arrived in the middle of the impromptu surgery and helped with that last task, which was the kind of break we needed right about now.

We moved Harry to a downstairs bedroom once he was stable and resting. This unfortunately left Thomas and I in the uncomfortable position of needing to decide what to tell the NCIS agents. Harry would have been better at deciding how much information was too much. He was good at reading people and figuring out how much they could handle. I was just going to have to wing it and hope that Thomas kept me from saying too much.

Speaking of Thomas, he was just a shade or two paler than normal. Somewhere in all of this he was going to have to find some way to feed. I wasn’t very comfortable with it, but we needed him at top form if something was gunning for us, especially since it was the Black Court. Harry told me about Thomas fighting with the Black Court and what it had cost him, though that was knowledge I was never, ever sharing.

At some point Agent Gibbs had sent the puppyish Agent McGee out for food and coffee and at the same time deliver the evidence to Abby, and I was almost willing to propose to him for the food. Now that Harry was in relative safety I was starving. It took five minutes to scrub all the blood (Harry’s blood) off of my face and hands. My clothing was still liberally splattered, but I would have to make do. Harry’s were a complete loss, of course.

Thomas nibbled at a sandwich and sipped a cup of coffee with mechanical precision. It wouldn’t sustain him like feeding off the good-looking female agent, which was probably why he was staying on the other side of the room. The caffeine hit my system like life itself, and I grunted in appreciation as I drank.

Agent Gibbs waited until I was finished before fixing his blue eyes on me. “Now would be a good time to explain,” he said.

I didn’t meet his eyes completely. Harry had warned me that Thomas had experienced something like a soul gaze from the man, but working in a government office would be nearly impossible for anyone who had ever really developed a magical ability. Harry couldn’t even walk into a room with a functional computer most of the time. “Harry has made a lot of enemies over the years,” I finally said. “He’s got a talent for pissing people off.”

Thomas snorted from his spot on the wall. I had a feeling he was reluctant to put himself in temptation’s way, which meant that he was really, really hungry. We had to find a way to let him leave and find an appropriate food supply. “He goes out of his way to insult individuals who could crush him like a bug,” Thomas said. He’d dropped the French accent completely somewhere along the way, probably figuring that it was a pointless endeavor as well as a waste of energy. “There are a couple of groups in particular who would like to either recruit him or dismember him.”

“And one of them decided to shoot up my town?” Agent Gibbs asked, one silver eyebrow raising.

“We knew from the beginning that this might be a trap designed specifically for Harry,” I told him. “Thomas is a nice bonus, and I’m sure they wouldn’t mind removing me as well. But Harry was the main target, and now we have a general idea of which group is after him this time.”

“Sometimes the only way to take care of a trap is to step into it and see who comes to take care of the prey,” Agent David said. “Especially if he has made a lot of powerful enemies.”

“Exactly. What happened at the park?” NCIS had showed up on the scene much too quickly. Someone, probably Agent David, had been trailing Harry. She must be very good, since we were both old hands at spotting a tail. The Renfields had to all be dead if Harry had lived long enough to be loaded into the van in the first place, but we needed to know how.

“Dresden was running through the park with the dog. I was following at a safe distance behind.” The woman looked thoughtful, like she was piecing together what she’d seen in a new light after everything she’d learned. “The dog stopped first, almost like it knew the attackers were there before they could be seen. Dresden came to a halt almost immediately after and started looking around him.”

“He trusts Mouse’s instincts,” I told her. “That dog knows when there’s trouble and he always lets Harry know.”

She nodded and continued laying out the crime scene, impressing me with how well she followed the action from an investigator’s (and warrior’s) point of view. I had no idea what her background was, though her accent and the prominent Star of David around her neck gave me a few clues, but she had been trained well. Facing six Renfields without knowing what they were wasn’t exactly something most law enforcement could handle well, especially when you factored in automatic weapons. Special Agent Ziva David had done better against Renfields than I had my first time out, probably than I ever would. Give me vampires to decapitate any day of the week over anything even remotely human.

I turned to Thomas when she was finished. “What do you know about the Black Court?”

He shrugged. “A few of the major players, but they’re just as close-mouthed as any of the Courts.” There was a quick flash of a very white grin. “A little more, probably, since the whole world knows how to kill them. It’s just such a shame, having your dirty business aired to the world like that.”

I rolled my eyes and turned my attention back to Agent Gibbs. “We know which group is responsible. When Harry wakes up, we’ll probably know more. Most importantly, Harry will know how to stop it.” It was something I was depending on, Harry’s ability to solve problems. He had come through for me in the past, and I was counting on it now.


He didn’t trust them, exactly. They had, for all intents and purposes, kidnapped Ducky and Palmer, even if it was just to the man’s home. Raith was still technically a suspect in the murder of a Marine, Murphy refused to meet his eyes, and Dresden was a completely unknown quantity. They had all been incredibly vague about the threat that they would be facing. But Gibbs had made a career out of listening to his gut, and he didn’t distrust them either. It felt a little like his initial reaction to Ziva.

Raith slipped out the door when most of the busyness had died down. He considered following, more because he was worried that the man would be in danger from whatever mysterious group was after Dresden, but DiNozzo beat him to it. Tony would take care of it, and he could continue trying to put together this puzzle with Dresden and Murphy.

He’d seen agents head down that kind of path before. It was always a bad idea to break rule number twelve, no matter how close you became to your coworker. At the end of the day you still had to work with the woman, no matter how obstinate she was being or how pissed you were at her and her way of handling things, and that wasn’t even counting the mess when the relationship ended.

Dresden woke up about an hour after Raith left and he and Murphy conversed quietly in the kitchen for a few minutes with the dog standing guard outside of the door. When the two of them came back out the woman was acting as an impromptu crutch under Dresden’s arm. She helped him limp his way into the living room and sit down on the couch before heading back into the kitchen, bringing back two coffee mugs, pressing one into Dresden’s hands and sitting down next to him.

“The ones responsible for this whole mess are known as the Black Court,” Dresden said. “They’re one of four different types of vampires, the ones that Bram Stoker’s Dracula was based on, with all of the traditional habits of vampires. The men who shot up the park are called Renfields after the character in the book.”

There was a long pause. Gibbs waited for the man to continue. “And?” he prompted when the silence stretched out. He was willing to let that idea slide past for now. He had seen a few things in his time and it was at least a possibility. None of the other members of his team spoke up to agree or decry the concept, thankfully following his lead.

Dresden’s expression at this was a little hard to read since he still refused to meet Gibbs’ eyes, but Gibbs settled on confusion mixed with a little exasperation. “Black Court vamps are the most physically and psychically strong, but they also have all the traditional vampire weaknesses. When ‘Dracula’ got published, it pretty much meant that all but the smartest, the strongest, and the sneakiest were hunted down and killed. That makes whoever is organizing this dangerous. It will probably have more Renfields, maybe a fledgling or two, and probably a psychologically subdued food supply.”

“People set traps for you often, Mr. Dresden?” Gibbs asked.

Dresden sighed, and Gibbs had the feeling that the weariness was only partially from a long day and blood loss. “All the damn time, lately. The last few years have been kind of rough.” Gibbs saw Murphy nudge him the tiniest bit, her shoulder bumping him in a way that could have been accidental if it hadn’t been for the potentially lethal way she moved, and Dresden straightened a little. “Right. Sunlight, garlic, holy symbols, stake through the heart, and decapitation if you can make it happen. The only Black Court vamp that I know on a first-name basis would never have risked attracting attention with those Renfields.” He took a sip from his mug. “The thing with Thomas is right up her alley, though. Hers and about a half-dozen other bad guys.”

“How do we stop it?” he heard Ziva ask, her voice that deadly quiet that meant trouble. Gibbs looked over at her. He was a little surprised that she had chosen to join in on the conversation. He trusted his team to follow his lead, but on something like this he expected a little disbelief. Whatever she had seen during the firefight with Dresden, it must have been damned convincing.

Dresden smiled. It was not a nice expression. He was pale from blood loss, dark circles under his eyes and a little shaky, and he was currently dressed in a pair of Ducky’s pajama pants, which rode up almost to his knees, and a T-shirt from Dinozzo’s bag of spare clothes. The man should have looked ludicrous despite his size and his demonstrated capabilities. Instead, he looked more than a little intimidating, with the kind of inherent threat that had nothing to do with physical appearance (though the fact that the man was closer to seven feet than six probably didn’t hurt) and everything to do with the man’s ability to deliver on the promise. “We set up a trap of our own.”

“Where?” Gibbs demanded.

“We just have to get in the general vicinity of them and they’ll come to us. Missing Persons is a good place to start. Black Court has an appetite, though no one would probably find their kills.”

Gibbs remembered Tony’s comment about the origins of the Renfields. He glanced at his watch. McGee had delivered all the evidence with fingerprints to Abby. He would have been sure to give the Goth lab tech her priorities to identify the presumed (but missing) dead. He pressed speed dial to Abby’s lab and waited two rings.

“Gibbs!” she answered. “There’s a ton of evidence and I’m trying to go as fast as I can and scan in all of the fingerprints but…”

Gibbs interrupted her. “Compare the fingerprints you do have against recent missing persons’ reports. Keep it local, DC and immediate areas.”

“Okay,” she accepted the order blithely. Gibbs could hear her computer beep over the speakerphone. “How do you do that, Bossman?” she muttered. “You were right. One of the missing, dead people was from DC.” Another beep. “Two missing people from DC. Wait a minute.” He could hear her typing. “They were last seen less than two blocks from each other.”


“219th and Vine, the other one at Lincoln and Maple.”

“Scan in as many different prints as possible, the mastermind collected the…” he would not call them Renfields to Abby, she didn’t need to know, “men near his residence. Call with every answer you find.”

“Got it.”

Gibbs hung up and turned to Ducky. “Duck, you have a map of DC. As accurate as possible?”

“Of course,” the coroner turned to find it.

They had a trap to prepare.


The problem with a place like DC is that it’s never really quiet. Parts of it are, of course. The government buildings are all officially closed for the night and most of the traffic in the tourist areas dies down after midnight. But most is not all, and there’s still a decent amount of people on the streets at any given time.

By the Thomas returned from Feeding, Gibbs’ lab tech had identified all of the Renfields by their fingerprints on the discarded shell casings and had a good idea of where they were last seen. Given what there was to work with, we’d picked the best options available and proceeded to dangle the bait in the best way we could. Thomas and Murphy had bundled me into the rental car and trolled around after dark until they’d found a hospital with it’s own super-special vampire watchdog. After that, all we had to do was get the thing’s attention and get it away from people.

Apparently it had worked. Of course, leading it toward where we deducted the vampire stronghold to be helped. As always, even the best laid plans go awry. Thomas was knocked unconscious even before the vampire mastermind appeared by the fledglings (I was so going to harass him for that once we got out of here). To be fair, there were far more than the two or three that I had originally estimated. Five more, actually, and another three Renfields. At least we weren’t storming the lair this time. The thought made my left hand twitch a little.

“My mother says hello,” the Black Court vampire rasped over dried out vocal cords. It had probably been a woman once upon a time, but an unknown number of years as a walking corpse had left the body in a state where it was impossible to tell.

Murphy was behind me, covering my back, while Mouse stood over Thomas as my brother slowly regained consciousness. “Awfully polite of you to pass that along,” I said, keeping my eyes focused on the major threat. Murphy would let me know if any of the cannon fodder made a move. Thomas had the decency to take out all three remaining Renfields before he began his sleeping beauty imitation, so that was good news. Psychological games were only effective if your opponent could think.

“It was a good idea to make sure you know who was responsible for your death,” it agreed readily. The handful of fledglings behind her stirred again, their movements restless and jerky. They were all obviously dead, though freshly so, which made things easier when it came to the law enforcement safely behind the stately old home’s threshold but meant that I wouldn’t be able to effectively use fire against them. The human body is more than half water, and the fresher the corpse the harder it becomes to burn. Believe me, I know.

“Any particular reason Mavra threw this little shindig for me?” I asked. That was the only Black Court vampire I knew by name, and the only one likely to go to these kinds of lengths just to bag me. There weren’t many of them out there anymore, thanks to Bram Stoker’s book, and I had a feeling most of them had better things to do than make life more difficult for me.

“We are enemies,” the vampire said, rotten face turned toward me. “You are a threat and she will be glad that you are eliminated.”

“Wait, you didn’t run this through mommy before you started shooting up the U.S. Capitol and getting the attention of at least one federal agency?” That just sounded like a bad idea. Agent Gibbs alone was not the kind of person anyone would want on their ass, and now he and his team knew how to take out vampires and what to look for. I almost wouldn’t need to worry about this vampire. Mavra would probably take care of this one herself if I left it alone.

The vampire remained apparently unconcerned about its fate, which was common of its race, if more than a little stupid. “I will be forgiven everything once I present you to her,” it said.

This was starting to border on ‘too stupid to live’ territory. How had she planned such an elaborate trap for Thomas and for myself? My guess was that my normal enemies were using this one as a cat’s paw. They put the idea in her head and maybe offered some logistics assistance and let her take it from there. Which made me worry about what was happening in Chicago in my absence. I would worry about that later. “Maybe you should actually catch me first,” I said, my internal countdown clicking away. I hadn’t been the one to bring the mortal police into this mess, but I had no problem in using them now that they were here.

It tilted a head, posture giving it an odd sort of bemused look. It was pretty much impossible to truly read a Black Court vampire accurately; the bodies wore down too quickly to truly give anything away. “But I have caught you,” it rasped out. “There is nowhere for you to go.”

I grinned at it, the expression probably less happy and more feral than was fit for human company. “Nowhere for you to go, either.”


Ziva took deep, measured breaths as she waited, an old trick to slow the heartbeat down. She knew Gibbs was on the roof with a rifle, waiting for Dresden’s signal to start removing heads with a fifty-caliber bullet.

Dresden’s signal, when it came, was hard to miss. The burst of flame was particularly dramatic against the darkness of the park. She heard the muffled crack of Gibbs’ sniper rifle a second later, sufficiently different from what most people thought of as the sound of gunfire that there was a chance no one would call it in, and stepped out of the shelter of the shed. Tony would be doing the same at the opposite corner of the park, and hopefully he would be following Dresden’s instructions as precisely as she intended to do.

The first shape moved jerkily into range, although it was moving fast despite that. Ziva took careful aim and went for the left kneecap first, following up on the right immediately afterward. That had been one of Dresden’s first pieces of advice, once Gibbs had made it clear that they were all now involved. ‘They can’t walk without their knees. No matter how many bullets you pump into the body, it won’t stop, but nothing can walk when you blast their knees into bone shards.’

She took the opportunity to put in a few more crippling shots in other key joints, careful to keep the distance. Dresden’s story of a vampire that had been almost completely crushed and still managed to grab an unwary woman’s ankle had been enough of a deterrent for her. Ziva was only going to get as close to the vampires as the range of her pistol. Once the vampire was down, it was Gibbs’ job to kill it. Even vampires can’t survive without their heads. His aim would be true and the bullet big enough to splatter the whole head. He did kill every one and Ziva knew he didn’t feel any remorse. Ziva was looking for more vampires to maim and noticed that Tony was as careful as Ziva in staying far out of reach.

Finally, Dresden’s fire had roasted the mastermind vampire and Gibbs’ sniper shots had removed all their enemies’ heads. It was finished.

The fight didn’t seem to take long. Most altercations were like that, really. If they lasted more than ten minutes, something was wrong.

The hard part would be cleaning out the mess so that no one would stumble over evidence of federal agents killing what most would assume to be people. Abby was waiting impatiently in the car. As much as Gibbs would have preferred to keep Abby completely non-complicit in the battle, she was the most knowledgeable in making physical evidence disappear. Dresden had promised to assist as much as possible.

And then there was the paperwork. Gibbs better have an idea on how to clear Raith’s name and close Staff Sergeant Terrance Miller’s murder, because Ziva had pretty much exhausted her creativity for the week.

“I was right,” Dresden said as they finished up. He was leaning heavily on Sergeant Murphy’s shoulder as he limped out of the park, his dog at his side. Raith was already gone. “Definitely too stupid to live.”

“Are you talking about you or the vampire, Harry?” The blond woman nudged him gently with her elbow, eliciting a groan from the tall man. “You should be in bed.”

He grinned down at her. “Yes ma’am.”

“Everything’s taken care of?” Gibbs asked.

“As well as it can be,” Dresden told him. “As long as none of the neighbors report anything, this should fly under the radar. We’ll head back home in the morning.” He fumbled with the hand that wasn’t draped over Sergeant Murphy and pulled a card out of his pocket. “You have any questions, you can call.” And with that they headed away.

Gibbs slid the card into the pocket of his jacket. “We all good?”

“It’s clean, Gibbs. I wouldn’t be able to piece together this crime scene if I didn’t know what happened.” Abby smiled, her expression more gleeful than it should have been. “I always knew vampires were real.”

“Real and dangerous, Abby. You can call Dresden if you have questions.” Gibbs looked over the area one last time. “See you all in the morning, first thing. We’ve got work to do.”


It didn’t take long to pack up the Beetle once I got it back from the mechanic. Murphy made Thomas do most of the heavy lifting, declaring that I was much too injured to take care of it without hurting myself further. She could probably have handled most if not all of it herself, but it was always a good idea to keep my brother busy.

“No one from Gibbs’ team came to say goodbye,” I observed as Murphy finished her sweep of the motel room and came out with the last two bags. “I figured that Agent McGee would at least come back to ask more questions.” There had been a lot of questions once the dust had settled, mostly on the behalf of someone named Abby that I apparently wasn’t allowed to meet. Karin had been given the responsibility of hustling me back to Ducky’s house after the battle. Gibbs had said so that I could recover more, but I had the feeling that they didn’t want me to learn more ways to make evidence disappear. And sometime during those questions I figured out exactly where I recognized the young agent. McGee was really Thom E. Gemcity, one of my favorite authors. I managed not to fawn over the kid, but I was looking forward to rereading his series. I was certain to understand the characters in his novels more. To that end, McGee had oh-so-graciously offered his newest book to me to read on the drive home. He had even signed it for me: ‘To Dresden, for the stories that can’t be written, Gemcity.’

“They’re probably too overjoyed at the prospect of getting you out of town to take the chance of delaying your departure,” Thomas told me.

“I’ve got their numbers and they have mine. If something comes up from your side of the street, they’ll call. Otherwise I’m pretty sure they’re going to pretend they never met you, Harry.” Murphy handed me my backpack full of clothing and shooed me into the passenger seat. Ducky had told them both that letting me drive would put the stitches in my leg at risk and she had taken on those duties as well. “Let’s get on the road. I’d like to get back to Chicago while I still have a job.”

“See you around, Karrin,” Thomas said, adding a little leer to the words. It was a surprisingly heartening gesture. Those two were back on even terms.

“Yeah, you wish, pretty boy,” she groused. She let Mouse into the back seat and dropped her own bag in with the weapons trunk before climbing into the driver’s side. The Beetle started with only a little whine of complaint and we pulled away from my brother and his insufferable grin. “One stop for coffee on our way out of town?”

I nodded in agreement. “One stop for coffee and then we’re headed home.”

“Heading home,” she agreed. There was a smile on her face that I couldn’t help matching as we drove west, the rising sun bright in the rearview mirror. It was a beautiful sight.


Jun. 5th, 2011 10:53 pm (UTC)
Excellent, worked really well.
Jun. 8th, 2011 01:05 am (UTC)
Thanks, I'm glad you liked it!