His first official day as Agent in Charge of the Old Races Terrorism Task Force, Anthony DiNozzo spent with the new Deputy Undersecretary of Intelligence Operations, A.J. Chegwidden. The two men worked to get A.J. moved to his new office, and getting Tony settled, so he could begin staffing the task force with civilian personnel. He enjoyed working with the team Chegwidden had in place, but they were a stopgap, and needed to return to their duty stations. Knowing he could call on the new North American Old Races Council Enforcer, Quinn for help made the daunting task ahead of him seem a little less so. It was also his intention to shamelessly exploit his pack to help separate the wheat from the chaff in the pile of applications.
His pack. Well, not his, Eliot Spencer, world's number one retrieval specialist, Hitter, Mage, and shape shifter was the alpha. Eliot's brother-in-law, Seamus Elliot, The Gwydion, and head of the International Council of the Old Races, made the Retrievalist The Elyat, Chief Enforcer and lead investigator for the Council. His Mate and pack Beta, Quinn, number two among the world's retrieval specialists, Hitters, and the Council's investigative team. Tony rubbed a hand over his face as he thought about the last two members of the pack. Parker, infamous thief, Fae, and team Mastermind, along with Alec Hardison, Human Hacker whose talent frustrated his former team mates, Timothy McGee and Abby Sciuto to no end.
For reasons known only to herself, Parker had latched onto to him the moment they met and insisted he was pack, and their new Sophie. It turned out Sophie was their retired Grifter. Seems all those years of watching Senior con people out of their money had left a mark on him the members of Leverage International were able to see. Maybe it was the years of undercover work. Heading for the coffee pot on his cadenza, Tony was still amazed at the rapid changes that had taken over his life in the past month.
New job â€¦ Jobs. New home â€¦ A very nice home in one of the historic mansions of Washington, D.C. Physical training with the Leverage team that made Gibbs' workouts seem like a Sunday social. He was challenged physically, mentally, and magically. When he thought he was too tired to think, Eliot would cook. Saying Eliot could cook was like saying DaVinci could paint.
Out of all the changes he'd been through, the biggest surprise to Tony were the changes in himself. He didn't realize the stress he'd been living under at NCIS hiding his Old Races status. Being away from Gibbs and Sheppard's mind games, Kate's reverse chauvinism bitchiness, and McGee's whining was like stepping into the sun after a long winter. His new crew was weird as snake suspenders, but they accepted him, his warts, and gave him odd looks when he didn't use his abilities. Some of their reminders left bruises, which Parker continually jabbed until they healed.
Shaking his head, to pull his thoughts away from his odd family, and back to his job, Tony checked the people working outside his office. Everything appeared normal for people tracking bad actors that were also Old Races, so he went back to reading applications and personnel files.
Eliot pinched the bridge of his nose trying to stave off the headache he could feel trying to build. After the Leverage International team wrapped up the Council's investigation into the murders of four wolf shifters, they'd returned their attention to the case they'd been prepping. Turned out his suspicions were right about the founders of the targeted company. The owners had been kept in the dark by the same people they'd hired to take over the day to day operations.
Kefentse Naidoo had built a successful textile and clothing company during a time when blacks owning businesses in South Africa was a rare thing. Ten years after the supposed end of apartheid, Kefentse had wanted to semi-retire to spend more time with his family and enjoy the profits of his blood, sweat, and sacrifice. Now, Eliot had to tell him the people he trusted were taking advantage of that trust.
Hardison finding Naidoo and his wife in Washington visiting two of his children at college saved them a trip to Cape Town, South Africa. Grateful for small favors, Eliot was expecting a call from Seamus or Rhiannon any day giving them a date for the Tribunal that would decide the fate of Jennifer Sheppard, Ari Haswari, and Ziva David. He was pulled out of his thoughts when Hardison danced through the doors that lead into the conference room. Quinn set a fresh pitcher of water on the conference table just as the doorbell chimed.
Eliot welcomed the couple and settled them at the conference table. When everyone was settled with refreshments, Eliot explained why they wanted to see the South African couple.
"We recently obtained information having to do with operations and employee conditions at your company â€¦ Particularly the treatment of some of your female employees. After looking at the history of your company, Hardison noticed the company had a spotless reputation until five years ago. While he continued researching your operations, we also explored other changes in your operations. These changes also began five years ago." He paused long enough to pass them folders full of documents Alec also projected onto the large television screen. "Normally we would turn our findings over to the people that handle such things, but we went the extra mile to find out what happened five years ago. Turns out that's when you went into semi-retirement, Mr. Naidoo. So, we decided we would arrange to meet."
Double checking the papers against the images on the screen, the couple exchanged a look. "I do not understand what you are showing me, Mr. Spencer. When we visit the office, look at the books, and inspect the facilities, everything is as it has always been." Elifasi Naidoo shook the pages in Eliot's directions. "Our manager, Stephen Attah, has our full confidence."
"In our business, it is not unusual to find unscrupulous executives put on a show for their owners, stockholders, etc., before returning to business as usual." Hardison offered another folder on the information he accumulated on Stephen Attah.
"When the cat's away, the mice will play." Parker chimed in from her spot sitting cross-legged on Eliot's desk.
"You are in a very unique situation, Mr. and Mrs. Naidoo. You've gone from being under suspicion to being someone we usually offer to help." Hardison smiled.
"Help how? How much would this help cost us?" Kefentse asked suddenly suspicious.
"It will cost you nothing, because often times when someone's money or position of power is threatened they become angry, scared, unpredictable, and sometimes dangerous."
"We have dealt with men like that all our lives. Change does not always set well with the people who lose control. We have those that will lend eager hands to end Stephen's shenanigans."
"If you need us â€¦" Parker handed Elifasi a business card.
"We thank you for bringing these problems to our attention instead of outsiders who might not understand how certain things should be handled." Kefentse offered his hand to the Leverage crew.
"We understand discretion, and how upheaval can effect a company." Eliot assured.
"It was time for us to resume our duties to the company. We find retirement has become a bit boring. Maybe when we are older it will look more appealing." Elifasi's smile reminded Eliot of a lion.
Quinn escorted the couple to their waiting car.
"I think they'll do just fine." Eliot grinned as they watched the car pull away.
Quinn handed Hardison a card. The Naidoo's said anytime we're in Cape Town, we have a place to land."
"Good to know." Parker hummed to herself as she pulled Hardison with her to the kitchen.
Eliot was getting ready to ask Quinn if he wanted to go to Rock Creek Park for a run since they wouldn't make it to The Farm for the weekend when his phone rang with his sister's ringtone.
"Rhiannon know Witchy Woman is her ringtone?" Quinn smirked.
"What do you think?" Eliot grinned at his Mate. "Hey Sis. How's the family?"
The happiness of hearing from his sister had turned to his customary glare by the time he ended his conversation.
"What's wrong?" Parker skidded back into the room holding a bowl of cereal.
"The date for the Tribunal has been set for a week from Monday. The jet will be here Friday, and we'll fly out Saturday." He scrolled through his phone looking for Tony's number. A grin tugged the corners of Eliot's mouth as he waited for him to answer. The green-eyed Mage had slid right into their pack like he was meant to be there. Parker adored her new brother and was looking for the perfect job for Tony's first time.
"Very Special Agent In Charge Anthony DiNozzo."
"Rhiannon called. The Tribunal is set for a week from Monday. We fly out Saturday morning at ten. Same hangar as before."
"That was quick. I'll let the team know. Did anyone call Tom?"
"Seamus is calling the Heads of the continental Councils."
"Okay. I'm bringing files for Hardison's special brand of background checks, so I can get a team picked. That way I can kick my soldiers back to military."
"You got it, Hoss. We can all pitch in. Can't be too careful these days." Eliot chuckled. "Later."
"Much later if I don't get it in gear." Tony was smiling as he ended the call and headed for the bullpen.
"Heads up, Gang. We're headed to London 10 am Saturday, same hangar where we shoved our bad guys on the plane." His announcement was met with nods of acknowledgement. "Anyone got anything that needs our immediate attention?" A chorus of â€˜No's' answered him. "Pack it in for the day."
He took his own advice and packing his files in his high-end briefcase/computer bag his pack had gifted him as a welcome to the crew. Tony smiled, loving his two mile commute home.
Ziva David was frustrated. Never had her life been so strictly regimented. Nothing she did caused her guards to show any empathy or sympathy for her situation. She and Ari were allowed to feed once a week from volunteers. The two Djinn were closely watched and strictly rationed. It was the only time she saw her brother, but they were not allowed to talk or interact. She had been informed of the date for their Tribunal and that her father had been notified of her and Ari's situation.
Hearing the door open, Ziva looked up to see her guard talking to a man who was very familiar to the Djinn. Malachi Ben-Gidon had trained with Ziva and Ari, and quickly rose to lead her father's hand picked Kidon agents. She knew wherever Gidon appeared, his Mate, Liat Tuvia, was lurking in the background. The couple were Bateleur shifters. She had seen them riding the thermals over training camp, but she had little time for shifters. She felt they were little more than the creatures of their other form.
"Has father sent you to demand our release?" She snapped.
"He has not. He could have perhaps bargained with the Council had you not killed someone under the protection of The Elyat." Ben-Gidon's tone was calm. He and Liat had always caught the brunt of Ziva's contempt for shifters. Even Eli could not figure where her prejudice had begun.
"He was merely another wolf shifter. Why should Ari and I have cared with whom he is friends?"
"That fact has made it quite unlikely the Tribunal will show you and your brother mercy. You must temper your attitude if you wish to curry leniency."
"I will bow my head to no man. I am a David." She gave Malachi her back as she flounced down on her bunk.
"Then I fear things will go badly for you."
"Do they not know of our father? This Council and Tribunal surely does not have more power than father."
"The Council is well acquainted with your father. They Elyat has had personal dealings with many of our Kidon and has schooled your father on true power." He was sad to see that his words were having no effect on the Mossad princess. "The International Council of The Old Races laws apply to all members of the Old Races across the world. The Elyat is the Chief Enforcers and Agent in Charge of the investigative arm of the Council."
"Bah. I am sure you and Liat were sent here to get Ari and I back to Israel."
The agent smirked at Ziva's declaration. "I am here to negotiate for your life. It has been indicated to your father that the death penalty is a very real possibility. Your father wishes for you to suffer the consequences of your actions. He can always have more children if the Tribunal cannot be persuaded to spare your life."
Seeing the flummoxed look on Ziva's face, Malachi wondered if something had finally sunk into her arrogant brain. Calling for the guard, he wondered what sort of reaction Liat got from Ari. He had always been the smarter of the two siblings. Ziva had always been the brawn to her brother's brains. Malachi looked for Eli's bastard son to throw his half-sister at the Tribunal to save his own life. Liat came around the corner, and from the expression on her face, he knew he was right.
Ari stared appreciatively at Liat Tuvia as she walked away from his cell. The petite Kidon agent was as deadly as she was beautiful, something Haswari always appreciated in a woman. Shame she was mated with Ben-Gidon. Her fierce energy sent shivers through the Djinn. Turning away from the bars that were spelled to specifically contain a Djinn, he settled on his bunk to consider the information Liat had passed along.
He was sure Ziva would be in a high dudgeon, angry that daddy did not immediately run to her rescue. If the wolf shifters they had killed had been ordinary citizens, the Director of the Mossad would have paid out a handsome sum to cover his children's indiscretions. He may have even been able to use his political allies to smooth over the deaths of three military personnel and an NCIS agent had not their last kill been under the protection of The Elyat. His father would have to do some fancy dancing to prevent them from being put to death. This was what he got for depending on the plans of others. That it had been a group hidden from Mossad Intelligence along with Agent Meatball from NCIS made his energy run in hot waves through the tattoo like markings on his skin.
If he lost his life on the word of the Tribunal, there would be a reckoning that would leave him forever imprinted on their memories.
The pilot had turned off the seat belt sign allowing the passengers to get comfortable for the long flight. When Tony returned to his seat after grabbing a cup of coffee from the galley, Alec handed him a tablet on his way to find an orange soda. Sitting down at the table across from Tony, the Hacker was joined by Eliot and Parker.
"These are the ID's and legends I've put together for you. Since you are an undercover specialist, I expect you'll have suggestions, or ID's you may want to throw in the pot." Hardison opened another file on the networked tablets. "These are files on a special project Leverage International works when we don't have other clients. I'll walk you through the log-in for those."
"What kind of special project?" The thought that this group had a particular focus on this set of files made his stomach flip. Tony wondered what would be left in the smoldering ruins when they were finished their project. "Let's take a look at the legends. We can talk about the files when we're some place less crowded."
Eliot had headed for the galley knowing Rhiannon would have ordered the fridge and pantry stocked with his favorite ingredients. He'd enlisted Quinn to keep Parker entertained, and not by practicing her pick-pocket skills on the Homeland team. Hardison and Tony still had their heads together over their tablets. Enhanced hearing picked up the Hacker's questions.
"What about Dr. Anthony Paddington? Sometimes we need aliases based in real life."
"How did â€¦ Never mind." Tony sighed.
"Age of the Geek, Man." Alec's smiled wide.
â€˜Yeah, yeah, okay. I'll probably stop in and see the family while we're in London."
"It'll be nice having someone who understands me instead of dissin' my geek spirals." The last was said loud enough that Eliot stuck his head around the corner with a satisfied smirk.
"It's only a Bachelor's." Tony insisted.
"If Hardison says you're good then it's good." Parker danced through to the galley.
Quinn sprawled in the seat next to Tony. "I swear Eliot's the only one that can keep up with her." He was unabashed in reading Tony's screen. "That's where I know you from â€¦ You keeping THAT alias?"
"No. He's faded into the sunset. If someone recognizes me I just say it was time to change names. Got tired of the cops pinning anything unsolved on him." Tony chuckled.
"You're good â€¦ Had me fooled."
"I remember now. You retrieved the Don's daughter when she ran off with the race car mechanic." Tony chuckled.
"I should have charged more. She was a spoiled bitch." Quinn rubbed his shin in remembrance.
"What do you doctor?" Parker sat down with a box of cereal. "We could use a doctor."
"I'm not a medical doctor." Tony accepted a refill from Eliot. "I have a doctorate in Criminal Psychology."
"So, you know how the bad guys think?"
"No one knows how you think, Parker." Eliot was headed back to the galley after refilling the fridge by the mini-bar.
"That's a good thing â€¦ Right?" The thief bounced after the Retrieval Specialist. "Eliot?"
"These legends look pretty good, but a little rough. I'll flesh them out a little better then we'll start putting together documents."
"I got all those." Hardison dropped his voice to keep from being overheard. "It was a glorious day when everyone put their stuff online."
Before Tony could admonish the Hacker, they were interrupted by Eliot passing out dinner. "Put the toys away. You know how I feel about electronics at dinner." He glared at Alec and Tony.
After dinner, the two groups mingled over drinks and dessert. They talked about news and gossip in the Old Races community and looking forward to looking up friends and family while in London. Tony couldn't believe how good it felt to be among his peers, and not have to wear a mask. He hadn't spoken with any of his Paddington relatives since his Uncle Clive's funeral. There'd only been time for an exchange of niceties before he had to return to work. He wanted to know if his abilities had come from the Paddington side of the family. He'd only had interaction with Crispin, who was an arrogant ass, but maybe one of his other relatives could give him some insight.
Listening to the report from his operatives about their visits with his children, Eli David rubbed his hand over his face. Ari was far too much like him, and he had obviously been too lenient with Ziva.
"When the tribunal begins, you will stay alert to Ari's actions. I am sure he is spending his imprisonment thinking of ways to escape and extract revenge."
"How so, Sir." Liat asked.
"It is what I would do." He exchanged a look with Ben-Gidon.
"You look tired, Director. Should I call your assistant?" Eli waved him off. "What of Ziva?"
"I suspect she is too busy being affronted at being captured. Her belief that Ari or I would protect her has been her ruination." The Kidon agents smirked at the Director's description of his daughter. "Take the evening. I suspect the coming days will be filled with long meetings and frustration at things over which we have no control."
"Yes, Sir." The two agents retired to their adjoining room.
Eli stood and moved to stare out the window at his view of London. "Ah, my loves, I have succeeded at my vocation, but have failed as a father. I thought if I trained them, they would be strong and independent. Instead they have become arrogant and manipulative." He whispered to those long dead. "I fear they have grown up too much like me, and not enough like the women that gave them life."
Darkness had fallen before he stepped away from the window and the contemplation of the death of his remaining children.
Quinn collapsed against Eliot's chest, smearing the evidence of their bed wrecking sex between them. Eliot finger combed the sweat soaked ringlets as his Mate lay limp against him.
"Hmmm. I'll give you a month to stop that." He purred.
"You're worse than your wolf." Eliot chuckled when Quinn buried his nose in his hair.
"We need to find more time for this." The shifter whined.
"Sex or just laying around?" He rolled Quinn under him.
"Both." He stretched his neck to capture the kiss swollen mouth above him. Giving a sniff, he wrinkled his sensitive nose. "As much as I love your smell, I think we need a shower."
Chuckling, Eliot released Quinn from his grip and headed for the bathroom. "I think you're right. Besides, Parker will soon be done exploring, and will have questions. We need to get Hardison tracking down the Paddington's. I've lost track of whether the House of Lords is in session."
"Have you ever met any of the Paddington's?"
"No. I've heard Seamus talk about them. A woman he calls Liv is his Second on the North Sea Council. Sounds like the Elders aren't too bad, but some of the younger generation are asses."
"Think they're where Tony get his abilities?"
"Rumor has it the Old Races blood became diluted back in the day of arranged marriages for money and titles, but has gathered strength since the turn of the 20th century."
Eliot had begun pulling the makings for breakfast out of the refrigerator when Parker burst through the door dragging Tony and Hardison.
"Oh good. I told them we were just in time." Parker went straight to the pantry. Finding a box of fortune cookies, she perched on one of the bar stools. "What's up for today?"
"Not much until the Tribunal actually starts, but we need to stay on the grounds in case we're needed for something. We find Tony's relations, we can invite them here."
"I got a start on that while you were sleeping in." The Hacker gave them a smirk. "I got a phone number for the wife of the old dude that's a Lord." He brought pictures up on his laptop.
"I know what my uncle looks like, Alec." Tony rolled his eyes. "I just need a phone number."
"Of course you do, Man." Hardison ducked his head.
His embarrassment was interrupted by Parker. "Hey, I think I once stole a painting from them. It was on loan to the museum. They must really be loaded, â€˜cause they have really good taste in art." The thief bubbled. Tony exchanged a look with Quinn and Eliot. "I should probably give it back since Tony's family is our family, and Sophie said we don't steal from family."
Quinn handed Tony a cup of coffee with a commiserating look.
"Twenty pounds of crazy ..." Eliot muttered.
"I'm sure they'd appreciate having their painting back." Hardison's grin was besotted.
"Cool. Did you get an address, too?"
"I'll send it to your phone."
Glad to change the subject with food, the Leverage Pack settled down to a hearty breakfast.
Between meeting The Gwydion, Seamus Elliot, and his wife, Rhiannon, who happened to be Eliot's sister, Tony was feeling a bit overwhelmed by dinner. The two teams got together at the dining hall to enjoy an excellent dinner. The five were settled around the living room of their cottage when Eliot informed his pack that Eli David was in London.
"How do you know?" Tony asked.
"Malachi Ben-Gidon and Liat Tuvia have been to visit David and Haswari."
"And they are â€¦" Hardison pulled grabbed his tablet off the coffee table.
"Director David's top Kidon operatives â€¦ Raptor Shifters â€¦ Mates."
Parker turned serious. "Think they're here for a jailbreak?"
"I think they're here to get the lay of the land. Ziva's pissed daddy didn't ride in to the rescue. Ari is pissed, too, but he's probably planning an escape. The apple didn't fall far from the tree with that one."
"What I've read about the good Director, that's not a good thing." Tony muttered.
"Yeah. With Eli you always need to have a bigger club."
"You know Eli David?" Quinn's eyebrows got lost in his curls.
"Went up against him, and his Kidon agents a few times."
"Is Israel one of the places with a bounty on you?" Parker's eyes lit up.
"No. Just Myanmar." Eliot gave her a wink.
"Think anyone else is on to Haswari?" Tony asked.
"Yeah. The Council are a bright bunch. Some are asses, but hard to con." Quinn lamented.
"Looks like the schedule is light tomorrow. I'll call the number Alec got me in the morning and see if I can visit after they adjourn." Tony stood and stretched. "Night all." He gathered his empty beer bottles as he headed for his room.
"Night." The group chorused.
The extra days they had before the start of the Tribunal had been good for the teams from America. The time Tony spent with his Paddington relatives had been good for his heart and mind. The elder generation had accepted him with open hearts along with suspicion and grumblings from the younger. By supper, the cousins had accepted their American cousin, and Tony had learned he was descended from a long line of magic users. His mother had been the only Paddington child who did not manifest her Old Races heritage, so DiNozzo Senior never knew his wife's magical heritage.
The Paddington's had been surprised when they learned Tony was a member of the Elliot Pack. According to his aunt, The Gwydion was particular about who was allowed into the pack. It had gone a long way toward convincing the cousins he was nothing like his father. After the supper, they'd all moved to the grand salon for coffee and brandy.
There was a bit of confusion when his uncle noticed what looked like a packing crate for a painting leaning against the piano. Tony nearly spit his coffee while the rest of the family got excited over the painting. The Mage recognized the painting as one he'd seen hanging in Parker and Hardison's room at the Elliot family cottage on the Council's estate. A warm feeling started in Tony's chest when he caught a brief flash of Parker before the Fae disappeared under her Cloak of Invisibility.
"What's the excitement over a painting?" He settled on one of the antique couches with a fresh cup of coffee.
"Five years ago, there was a rash of thefts across London. Didn't leave a spec of evidence behind. That painting had been in the Paddington family for over 300 years. It came to the family as part of bridal dowry, and was on loan to one of the museums that was robbed. When it never showed up on the black market, we feared it had disappeared into a private collection."
When Tony had returned that evening, he'd hugged the Fae until she squeaked before placing a kiss on her forehead and thanking her for returning his family's painting.
Patting him on the chest, Parker assured him she didn't steal from her family. If Tony's smile was a little watery, the rest of his new family didn't mention it.
Settling behind the North American Primus, beside Chegwidden, Tony was not surprised when he saw his Aunt Liv moving to a seat behind Seamus as his Second-in-Command. Sitting beside his aunt was Mycroft Homes, who Tony only knew from the backgrounds Hardison had worked up on all the movers and shakers associated with the International Council. His aunt gave Tony a smile and a wink as she settled in her seat. Her action caused Holmes to lean over and question her. As Tom was still building his Council, Tony had been drafted by A.J. to stand as a third member of the North American Council.
Tony continued to scan the room while the members settled. Parker and Hardison sat with the four investigative teams, while Quinn and Eliot attended their duties to the Council. As The Elyat, Eliot and Quinn, as his Second. would be a line of defense between the accused and the Council should Haswari and David become unruly. As such, they were stationed on the room's lower level with the accused and their legal representatives. Tony noticed the Israeli contingent already seated in the gallery along with the Secretaries of Defense, Navy, and their aides. Among the aides, Tony saw the familiar faces of Gibbs and Ducky. Sheppard must have come clean with SecNav about her illness for the man to voluntarily put up with Gibbs and Ducky. All they needed to get started were the remaining members of the Council, and the accused.
Staring out the window of her room, Jennifer Shepard was grateful The Gwydion had been generous in allowing her a very comfortable suite of rooms as opposed to a jail cell. His wife was a Mage who had performed a spell that only allowed her to leave the room with the two women assigned as her guard.
Shepard's only visitors had been her lawyer, guards, The Gwydion, Rhiannon, his wife, and two people she came to understand were The Gwydion's top two members of the International Council. In honor of the agreement worked out with the Council, the four had come into her rooms with a video camera to take her statement. Rhiannon had left the room after casting a spell to guarantee the truth of her statements.
The past month had been a revelation to the former Director. Her days had been spent resting, reading, or walking the grounds with her guard. For a woman who had worked nearly every day, her time alone had been rejuvenating. Jenny hadn't realized how the stress of her job combined with the stress of her subversive activities had affected her already declining health. Looking back on the plans she had been making to kill Rene Benoit, she realized those plans would have probably cost one of her agents their life. She'd been eyeing Jethro's SFA for her operation. DiNozzo was handsome and intelligent. That intelligence would have probably come around to bite her on the ass, but the man certainly filled out a designer suit. Any straight woman with a pulse would fall for the man's flirty charm and romantic nature. That had started her idea of having the young agent go after Benoit's daughter.
The biggest surprise of her stay had been when Rhiannon had directed the delivery of coffee and tea along with Jethro and Ducky. After they caught up on the news since Jenny had been taken away from NCIS, the topic turned to the upcoming Tribunal, and what would happen afterward. The Old Races Council wasn't interested in punishing the petite red-head since she did not commit the murders. They were leaving her punishments to the Mundane government for her part in providing confidential files to the rogue Mossad agents, and planning to allow a foreign agent into an American agency. She would be returning to the States with the American contingent and learning her punishment, probably on the plane ride home. Until then, she would be seated in the gallery with the other spectators.
Feeling the magic dampening his own abilities as the cuffs and shackles were snapped closed, Ari wanted to drain the life out of his jailers for his confinement. Kept a few days away from starvation, the powerful Djinn had been reduced to no better than a Mundane. It took all of Hawari's considerable training to keep his expression blank and his demeanor quiet. Standing in the confinement area's office, Ari could hear his half-sister using her considerable language skills to express her displeasure at her treatment. It was times like these Ari wished his father had not doted on Ziva after their sister, Tali's death. Ziva was far too filled with her own importance to be an effective operative â€¦ Not that it mattered at the moment, but perhaps that would change.
"Ziva! Have a little dignity, Woman." Ari snarled.
Glaring at her brother, Ziva's face burned in embarrassment as her brother's admonishment for her behavior stung. To do it in front of their guards only added to her anger and mortification. It did serve its purpose, causing her to gain control of her temper. The siblings were both subdued as their shackles were fastened to the table alongside their legal advocates. Looking at the stern faces watching them from above, did nothing to raise their expectations for the outcome of the Tribunal.
Seamus Elliott stared down at the two Djinn. Christopher Fike was a valued member of the Elliot Pack, and they still grieved the young Commander's death. Chris had been making plans to retire and return to Scotland, thinking of looking for his Mate. He knew Eliot and Quinn still mourned the younger wolf shifter. Both men had been hyperaware since their arrival, waiting for Eli David to pull some stunt to free his children while keeping his own hands clean. Glad everyone was finally seated. The Gwydion banged his gavel to call the Tribunal to order.
"It has many years since this august body has had to call a Tribunal. Seldom has it been for the reason we are here today. Seldom are members of the Old Races so ignorant of their own history that they would murder not one, but four members of the Old Races." Seamus watched as the three Djinn stiffened with indignation at his description. "This Council has spent the time since the arrest of Ari Hawwari and Ziva David, reading reports, looking over evidence, and for the past four days listening to the truth spelled testimony of the investigating agents. Jennifer Shepard do you have anything further you wish to tell this International Council of the Old Races before we pronounce our judgement?"
"No, Sir. I regret that my ignorance of your people could have caused harm to Agent DiNozzo and would like to thank you for taking my health in consideration when you assigned my accommodations."
"As the charges you will be facing when you return to the United States and the Mundane courts will be harsher than the penalties we would lay for your actions, the Council remands you to the custody of your Secretary of Defense."
"Thank you, Gwydion." Shepard returned to her seat.
"Advocates, do you have anything you wish this Council to consider in defense of your clients?"
Ziva's advocate climbed to his feet. "Honorable Members of the Council, I would ask that you show leniency to my client. Ziva David has been emotionally compromised to her detriment since the violent death of her younger sister, Tali. She turned all that emotion and devotion to her elder brother â€¦ Looking to him for direction and support. As a trained Mossad agent, it is obvious to me how far she allowed that devotion to carry her into the darkness of her brother's unconscionable actions against four proud members of the Old Races and the American military."
All the non-Mages in the room watched the Mages for indication the advocate for Ziva David had lied. Seamus saw Eliot clenching his jaw as Rhiannon turned to whisper in his ear. "Councilor, I know you are aware of the truth spells embedded in these walls."
The man cringed. "Yes, I am."
"I ask because you are dangerously close to The Elyat relieving you of your freedom."
Tanned skin paled. "Understood."
Ari's smile was nasty when he caught the Advocate's attention. His fickle little sister had definitely turned his head. He didn't blame her, he was mad that she got to employ the gambit before he did.
The Gwydion turned his attention to Ari's Advocate. "Do you have some fantastic story to weave for me, Councilor?"
"No, Sir. We ask only that you return my client to his home country for his incarceration."
"What incarceration, Councilor? These two creatures killed four valued members of our society. Why should they continue to live?"
Silence filled the hall with The Gwydion's question. Just as Seamus was about to continue, Eli David stood.
"Gwydion, I would beg the Council's indulgence."
"Director David, you have something for our consideration?"
"I do. I would offer the families of the murdered restitution, and my children placed under the Binding Rune and incarceration instead of death."
"Do you truly understand what you ask, Director? A Binding Rune is for life. Even if they should be released from physical prison, they will never again have the powers of the Djinn."
The Gwydion got confirming nods from the other Members then turned his attention to the prisoners. "Do you understand what your father has proposed?"
"What say you to his proposal?"
"We agree." They said in unison. Better to live to fight another day. Being in prison in Israel had advantages such as volunteering for suicide missions. There was always someone who could break spells.
"We will make arrangements for transport and life imprisonment in Israel." He looked to his wife who handed him a slip of paper. "The Binding Runes will be set at 9:15 pm tomorrow, and I will speak with the families about restitution. I hope you have very deep pockets, Director David."
"I thank you for the lives of my children." Eli David bowed his head to the Council before returning to his seat.
Liat and Malachi exchanged a look. Once they knew Director David's thoughts, they would report to their superiors.
Once the Tribunal was adjourned, the Leverage Pack converged on Eliot and Quinn as they walked through the door.
"What did that all that mean?" Hardison acted as their spokesperson.
A glare from Eliot backed everyone up. "Can we pretend to be a little civilized and let me get through the door. I need a beer and some food, and we'll sit down and talk about what's going to happen tomorrow night."
Quinn grabbed a couple beers out of the fridge. Passing one to Eliot, he exchanged the beer for a kiss before going to sit at the breakfast nook. Once everyone was settled out of his way, Eliot began pulling out ingredients for supper. Once everything was organized, he began to explain while he chopped and sautÃ©ed.
"Our oldest records come from the Middle East. There's a reason it's called The Cradle of Life. When the International Council was established, the scholars went to all the archives around the world and collected all the laws. A lot of the laws pertained to specific situations in specific countries, but they compiled a list of the best, presented it to the beings that had been selected to represent them."
Eliot set his beef stew to simmer and joined the others at the table. "They decided each continent would have a Council seat. Since only temporary expeditions live on Antarctica, that takes out one. Asia and Africa are so large, they each have two Councils. Africa is split north and south â€¦ Asia east and west. British Isles are combined with Greenland, and Iceland. That's ten with The Gwydion being the tiebreaker. Every five years each individual Council has a gathering. At that time, it's determined whether to have an election for new leadership, or to hold the status quo. Every six years the Councils all meet to determine the same for The Gwydion." Eliot got up to check his stew and grab a second plate of finger food.
"I didn't know we were going to get a history lesson." Hardison teased as Parker stole a handful of his Goldfish. "Woman!" He admonished the blond.
"I'm a thief." Parker sing-songed as she hid behind Tony.
"You want to know what's going to happen tomorrow â€¦ You have to have context." Eliot growled.
"Having to hide what I was, I don't know any of this, so I want to hear it." Tony mock glared at the Hacker.
"We should visit Walter when we get home. He knows everything." Parker smiled wide at the group.
"Might not be a bad idea. We haven't seen the old goat in a while." Quinn winked at Eliot. "Lots of places to run on the rez."
"As long as you don't get your fool ass full of buckshot for chasing the sheep." Eliot growled at his Mate.
"Back to subject at hand." Tony tried to wrangle the conversation back on track.
"The new International Council gets together with the archivists, and they go through all the rules from all the countries. Remember, this was a time when there weren't many people or countries. They set down a Book of Law that is strictly for the Old Races. Anything outside those offences are handled in the Mundane courts. If Parker steals a painting and gets caught, it's up to the Mundane courts to punish her. For what the two Djinn did â€¦ The murder of wolf shifters, or any member of the Old Races takes precedent over Mundane courts. They could have gotten the death penalty, but Daddy dearest agreed to write fat restitution checks, so his kids get life in prison and a Binding Rune." Eliot finished his beer and pulled out another. "It takes two Mages to bind someone's power. One Mage places a Rune on the throat and the other places one opposite at the back of the neck. There are simple bindings meant to last for a short sentence, and there are more complicated bindings that last until death. If you find the right person and pay enough money you might even be able to find someone to break the binding, but it's more likely you'll be wasting your money or get yourself killed in the process. Rhiannon and I do the bindings for the International Council. I think Rhiannon and your Aunt Liv do them for the North Sea Council. Anyway, once they're bound, they'll no longer be able to use their abilities as a Djinn the rest of their lives."
"Not like they'll need them in prison." Quinn growled. Eliot laid a hand over his in empathy for his grief over Chris' death.
"Now everybody out. Supper'll be ready in 30." Eliot turned back to pull the makings for a salad out of the refrigerator.
"Yeah, Eliot's used up like â€¦ A whole year worth of words." Hardison teased. "He probably needs to save some for tomorrow."
"I'll give you save some for tomorrow." Eliot growled as he grabbed a dishtowel and began to spin it into a rope. "Out!"
"I'm going â€¦ I'm going â€¦ Sheesh." Hardison scampered out of the kitchen just as Eliot snapped the towel toward his retreating backside. "Missed me!" Alec yelled from the safety of the stairs.
"Just wait â€˜til our next training session." Eliot growled.
"Dammit." The Hacker stomped up to his and Parker's room.
Eliot spent the next morning with his sister, refreshing their knowledge of the binding spell and collecting the tools and ingredients they would need. Instead of returning to their wing of the cottage afterward, the Retrieval Specialist grabbed his Mate, and two wolves disappeared into the woods.
Several of Tony's Paddington cousins came to drag their American relation off to a nearby pub for lunch and â€˜real' football. Sheena had given Parker the names of several Fae couples that worked in support for the Council telling her they may have more information about her parents. The thief pulled Hardison along to make sure she acted normal.
It was a relaxed Leverage Pack that gathered back in the Council chambers to watch the binding ritual. Tony had pulled Parker and Hardison along with him when he was directed to sit behind Tom with A.J.
"You know what's going; happen?" Chegwidden asked Tony.
"Eliot explained a bit of the history of the Council and the ritual last night."
"It's something you'll need to learn since you and Tom are the only Mages on the North American Council at the moment."
"I know. Not exactly what you signed up for when you transferred to Homeland." A.J. patted the younger man on the back. "You're too powerful to sit in the background, Tony."
"You have a fine teacher in Eliot. Wait'll he introduces you to Walter Black Dog. Tom and I should probably see if we can rope the old man into sitting on the Council."
"They mentioned a Walter last night. Who is he?"
"A Guardian that lives on the tribal lands in Oklahoma. He raised Eliot and Rhiannon after their parents were killed. Since you're family you can probably talk him into being on the Council when you visit."
"I thought you said you and Tom â€¦" Tony trailed off at A.J.'s smirk. "Oh no, Eliot said it was up to Tom to pick his Council. I'm going as the new kid in the family."
"We'll see what happens once you get your team in place." The retired admiral nodded his head as though his plans were falling in place.
"It's all good, Tony. You'll see."
Before their conversation could continue the electric lights dimmed. Torches around the chamber lit along with candles set in a circle where the accused had sat earlier. Ziva and Ari were once again shackled to the tables wearing tops cut low to expose their neck and throats. Rhiannon was in black formal dress of The Lady Gwydion. Eliot was dressed in elaborate white buckskins that had been created by Black Dog and honored the heritage he'd received from his father. Eagle feathers and beads decorated the dark hair that spread over his shoulders.
Eliot stood on Ziva's left while Rhiannon stood on the right. After painting a potion around the base of her neck, the siblings spoke the spell together, Rhiannon's left hand at Ziva's throat while Eliot's right lay on the back of her neck. Those in the room sensitive to magic felt the rise of power as the pair continued speaking. As the ritual reached its crescendo, Ziva tried to move from under their hands. When the final word was spoken, Ziva screamed as the smell of burnt flesh filled the room. The brother and sister stepped away from the Djinn as she slumped in her chair.
The ritual was repeated with Ari with the same effects. After the detritus from the ritual had been cleared, the siblings walked straight and tall from the chamber leaving the two slumped bodies behind. Once the doors closed behind them, they leaned into each other. Eliot got them to the anteroom they had used to prepare. He settled his sister in a chair with an energy drink. Eliot changed out of his buckskins and carefully wrapped them to be cleaned when they got home. He joined Rhiannon with a drink of his own to grab a few minutes rest before they went back in the chamber. Eliot returned to his post while Rhiannon returned to her husband's side.
"Ziva David and Ari Hawari, arrangements have been made for you to be transported to Israel with our Council member from the East Asia Council. Ziva David, you will be housed at Neve Tirza Women's Prison in Ramla for the remainder of your days. Ari Haswari, you will be housed at Ayalon Prison, also in Ramla for the remainder of your days. Director David you will receive correspondence from the Council in regard to the amounts of restitution. This Tribunal having concluded its business is now adjourned." The Gwydion brought the gavel down for the last time.
Eli David intercepted the East Asian Wezraa on her way to her lodgings. "Ah, Director David, I am assuming you are wanting a place on my plane for you and your security detail?"
"If you would be so kind. I would spend time with my children before our time is much more restricted."
"Of course. As a parent myself, I can understand the stress this situation must be causing."
"Thank you, Wezraa."
"The plane will be taking off at noon tomorrow." Her assistant handed Eli a note with the gate information.
"We will be ready."
Waiting until they were in the privacy of the limo from the Israeli Embassy, before quizzing his security detail.
"Have you found me any information about this binding ritual?"
"We have, but none of it is good, Director. It is said no one builds a spell like the Spenser siblings. It is said that should an attempt be made to break the binding the spell turns back on the person wearing the Rune." Ben-Gidon offered
"If the caster is killed?" David asked through gritted teeth. He was getting tired of Eliot Spencer getting the better of him.
"Does not make a difference. The binding is anchored to Ari and Ziva's lifeforce. Killing the Spencers would serve no purpose other than to bring the wrath of their Mates and the International and North Sea Council onto your house." Liat's smile was not pleasant.
"We will continue to search. I am sure for enough money some fool will be willing to try to break the binding."
"Of course, Director."
The Mates exchanged a look. This could be the beginning of the end for Director Eli David.
~ Five Years Later ~
Anthony DiNozzo scrubbed his hands through his hair. Five years after transferring to Homeland Security, he can't believe this is his life. Looking around his new office he sees Parker poking through offices, closets, and cabinets. Hardison is talking to his tablet making a list of everything he needs to make sure the IT is cutting edge. Quinn is checking the building's security to make sure it's tight. Eliot was standing next to him laughing at Tony's frustration.
"Yuck it up, Laughing Boy. Remember you're in this, too."
"Who'da thought the government would hire a bunch of bad guys to be good guys."
"May you live in interesting times." Tony watched his pack mates' antics.
On New Year's Day instead of sitting in front of their ridiculously large television watching bowl games, Morrow had called the pack to a meeting at the White House. They'd set in the Cabinet room with the President, Attorney General, Secretary of Defense, and the heads of the Intelligence Agencies. They were shown plans for a brand new agency devoted entirely to acts committed by or to Old Races, but would fall under the umbrella of Homeworld Security. For cases that needed the special touch that only Leverage International could provide, they would be brought in on an as needed basis. The thing that surprised Tony most about the Old Races Bureau of Investigation, other than being named Director, was that Eliot's security clearance had been higher than his until he agreed to take the Director's position. Finding out the purpose of Homeworld Security had given him a whole new set of nightmares but had given him a partner to share those nightmares. If this new agency was successful, the concept could be implemented in other countries.
Tony's Task Force would be moving over from Homeland, and the first interviews to fill the Agent in Charge and Section Chiefs would begin tomorrow. Some of the applications had been a real surprise. One of the surprises were Harm and Sarah Rabb. The retired JAG officers would be heading up the agency's legal department.
A fresh cup of coffee appeared under his nose. "Bless you. Hardison needs to hurry up. I'm going cross-eyed reading all these applications."
"Thanks for bringing the guys I recommended in and giving them a chance."
"We need tactical people, and you brought me some incredible talent."
"Yeah, I can still hear Colonel Vance screaming." Eliot laughed. "Speaking of Colonels, is yours â€˜porting in for the weekend?"
"Yeah. They just got back from a mission, so they have week downtime after their reports are wrapped. Jack has to be back on base Monday for some of those other duties as assigned."
"Are you whining?" Eliot arched an eyebrow.
"Of course not. The Director of the ORBI does not whine." Tony pouted. "I know the hazards of being a 2IC. I think I have an idea for that problem we've been working on at home."
"Oh? Madame Su is providing supper tonight, so we'll have lots of time to talk it out."
"Hey guys â€¦ You ready to blow this joint?" Hardison stuck his head in the door.
"Got everything you need?" Tony asked the Hacker.
"All set. We should have what we need installed by the end of the week."
"Great. Let's call it a day."
An hour later everyone was comfortable and digging into an excellent variety of foods from Madame Su's.
"Do you remember a television show that was on the air during the whole Y2k non-event?" When everyone gave him a blank look, Tony pushed on. "Your pop culture education is woefully lacking. The names we have that there's absolutely no way anyone can touch them â€¦ We use the same trick the intelligent and good-looking hero of the show used."
"So, what did the handsome hero do?" Parker started rooting through the food bags for fortune cookies.
While Tony explained, the pack stared slack jawed.
"You're kidding, right?" Quinn started to laugh until he noticed no one else joined him.
"Hardison?" Eliot asked.
"Could be doable."
"Will you know by Sunday Night Football time?"
With a nod, Hardison headed for his workroom â€¦ Parker right behind him.
Sunday night came too soon as far as Tony was concerned. He'd kissed Jack goodbye for another week and sent him back to Colorado. Now it was time to put his plan into motion. Shut in Eliot's recording studio, there would be no external sounds to give clues to his location.
"You ready, Man?" Hardison checked his computer. Tony gave him a nod. "3 â€¦ 2 â€¦ 1 â€¦ Go!"
Eliot was setting up trays of snack foods and making sure the mini-fridge was stocked before the game started. He settled into his chair and twisted the top off his beer. He nearly spit his first drink of beer when static appeared on the 70-inch screen. Green eyes appeared in the middle of the static.
"Do not adjust your set. This is a streaming freedom video. This is a secure cable hack and will last exactly sixty seconds. It cannot be traced, and it cannot be stopped, and it is the only free voice left in the city. Remember 2008 when the markets tanked â€¦"
As suddenly as the green eyes appeared, they were gone. Tony had certainly set the cat among the pigeons now. It would be interesting to see if they got to cross this guy off their Black Book. Eliot got out of his chair and headed for his basement recording studio.
~ Finis ~