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Sam waited patiently for her coffee. She rubbed a hand tiredly across her forehead. It had been a turbulent few months. Tony had been accused of murdering an arms dealer, and then only a few weeks later Director Shepard had been gunned down in California. Sam remembered the shockwaves that ripped through NCIS at the news. Gibbs' team had been split up and he had been temporarily lumbered with what were, Sam privately considered, a group of useless misfits. During that time she had found that Gibbs had spent more time with her group, trying to bring them up to speed.

Director Vance had called all three of them to his office. Each of the girls had expected to be told that their services were no longer required, but, to their amazement, he had confirmed them in their positions. His face had been expressionless as he told them that NCIS required their services on a permanent basis. Ros was now Special Agent Danvers, whilst Sam and Amaia were both Liasion Officers. Sam had expected the three of them to be reassigned, away from Gibbs, but Director Vance was content for them to remain, what he called, Gibbs' Second Team. After the shock shooting of Brent Langer, and the reinstatement of Gibbs' main team, life was beginning to return to normal at NCIS Headquarters.

Sam collected her coffee and began to move out of the shop, when someone laid a hand on her arm detaining her. She turned to look at FBI Senior Special Agent Tobias Fornell. He did not look happy, but then this was not exactly an unusual expression for him. "Agent Fornell," Sam acknowledged his presence.

"Liasion Officer Wallace," Fornell replied.

Sam sipped her coffee. "What do you want Fornell?"

"A moment of your time."

"A moment is all I can spare."

Fornell guided Sam out of the press of people. "I want to talk to you about one of your team."

"Excuse me?"

"Amaia Bengoa. What do you know about her? Do you trust her?"

Sam looked at Fornell in disbelief. "If you're asking me what I think you're asking me, you're going to end up wearing this coffee!"

"I am being informal, Officer Wallace. If you want to be difficult, we can conduct this conversation at the Hoover Building."

Sam looked down her nose at Tobias Fornell. "If you wish to speak to me at all, Senior Special Agent Fornell, you can go through official NCIS channels. Oh, and I'll have Special Agent Gibbs with me. Him I trust, unlike you." She turned away, her head held high. Then she turned back, "You might want to ask Director Vance for a safe conduct pass though.... Agent DiNozzo is still pissed at being suspected of murder." With that, Samantha stalked away, tossing her now empty
coffee container in the nearest bin.

Sam was starting to fume by the time she entered the squadroom from the elevator. There wasn't actually steam coming out of her ears, but it was close. Gibbs and Vance had come down the staircase and were heading towards the elevator engaged in quiet conversation. Gibbs sipped from his coffee as he listened to Leon. Head down, stalking up the squadroom, Sam didn't see Gibbs until just after the moment of impact.

Sam stared in horror at the coffee container spreading its precious contents over the floor. She swallowed hard, and slowly looked up. Gibbs stood there looking at her. His face was unreadable. Sam swallowed again. She looked across at the others.

Watching from near their desks, Tony and McGee wore identical expressions of horror mixed with anticipation. Amaia had hidden her eyes. Ros had turned her back so she didn't have to look, covering her ears as well. Ziva shot Sam a look of sympathy. Director Vance had stepped away from Gibbs and was watching Sam with a look of amusement mixed with a little compassion. He looked down at a piece of paper that a secretary had just brought to him.

Oh God. Of all the things to do. Spilling Gibbs' coffee has got to be the worst offense in his book. Sam looked up into Gibbs' face again. There was definitely no forgiveness there. Sam swallowed again. Then she crouched down to retrieve his coffee container. Oh wonderful, the coffee landed on his shoes as well. He'll probably expect me to clean them!

"I trust you have a good reason for spilling my coffee, Samantha." Gibbs' voice was silky.

Sam winced. Samantha. Ouch. I only get that from Gibbs when I am really in the crap. Mind you, spilling his coffee is about as crappy as it gets.

"Well, actually...." She looked at the floor. "No, I haven't. Sorry Gibbs. I'll get you another one." She got to her feet. Holding the container, she turned away from Gibbs, then let out a startled yelp.

"Her first one!" Tony breathed. "She's really one of us now, Probie."

McGee nodded. "Her first headslap."

Tony looked nostalgic. "I remember my first like it was only yesterday."

Gibbs turned and looked daggers at him, "That's because I keep having to give you constant reminders, DiNozzo."

Vance looked up from the piece of paper and looked at Sam. "Would your sour temper have anything to do with FBI Senior Special Agent Fornell, by any chance?"

Gibbs looked at Vance and then back at Sam. Sam sighed, rubbing the back of her head. Gibbs smirked. "I ran into him at the coffee shop. He tried to get me to talk." She dropped her voice so only Vance and Gibbs could hear her. "He wanted information on Amaia. I more or less refused. He then threatened to drag me off to FBI headquarters. I told him that if he wanted to talk to me he would have to go through NCIS, and that I would only talk to him with Gibbs present. I don't know what he wants, but I did not like his tone or his attitude. And I do not like being threatened."

"I don't blame you," Vance commented. He waved the piece of paper. "This is a request from the Director of the FBI for Special Agent Tobias Fornell to interview Liasion Officer Samantha Wallace regarding a matter of national security. The request also notes that NCIS Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs may be present as a witness."

"National Security?" Sam looked bewildered. "What the hell has Amaia got to do with national security?"

Gibbs looked thoughtful. Looks like Amaia hasn't mentioned her child and her ETA boyfriend to Sam. Wonder why Tobias thinks she might have? Gibbs looked at Vance. "Are you going to grant the request?"

"I can't see any reason why not. Unless you can think of a reason, Wallace?"

Sam shook her head, "No sir. They are the conditions I told Fornell he could speak to me under."

"Very well then. I'll contact my counterpart and arrange for Fornell to come over."

Gibbs smirked again. "Just send someone down to the lobby. You can guarantee that Fornell will already be waiting there."

"Because that's what you would do," Vance said drily.


"Two sides of the same coin," Vance observed with a small smile, as he turned away.

"That," Sam said, "is a seriously scary thought."

"Isn't it?"

Sam sat at the table in the conference room. Gibbs had refused to countenance the use of the interrogation room. Gibbs sat beside her as they waited for Fornell to be brought up from where he had been waiting, as Gibbs expected, in the lobby.

Gibbs watched Sam. It was clear that the woman was worried and puzzled. There was a small frown between her brows and she was gently nibbling on her lower lip. Something she tended to do when she was thinking deeply, Gibbs had noticed.

The door to the conference room opened and Fornell was shown in. He nodded to Gibbs, "Jethro." He looked down at Sam, "Wallace." Fornell took a seat across the table from Sam, placing a folder down on the table in front of him. He looked across at Gibbs. "This is a strictly informal meeting. No record." Gibbs raised his eyebrows. Fornell looked at Sam, "I apologise for my behaviour in the coffee shop. I was a little abrupt."

Sam's eyebrows shot up. "A little?"

Gibbs grinned, "Director kick your tail, Tobias?"

"Ours or his?" Sam wanted to know.

Fornell winced. "Both. Can we get on please?" He opened the folder in front of him and extracted a photo which he passed across the table to Sam.

Sam looked down at the photo of a dark haired, pale skinned man of interderminate age. The photo looked like a prison mugshot.

"Have you seen this man before?"

Sam looked at the photo again and shook her head. "No. Should I have?"

"His name is Eneko Mentxaka. He is the former lover of Amaia Bengoa. He was recently released from prison in Spain."

"In prison? For what?"

"Terrorism. Mentxaka was a member of ETA. He was found guilty of plotting to destroy many notable landmarks in Barcelona."

Sam stared at Fornell. "Amaia's boyfriend was in ETA?"

"Was, and as far as we are aware, still is."

"And you think he has or will contact Amaia now that he's been released?"

Fornell didn't respond to the question. "Upon release from prison Mentxaka returned to Bilbao to see his and Amaia's son...."

"WHAT?" Sam jumped in her seat as if she'd received an electric shock. She stared across the table at Fornell in disbelief. "Amaia has a child?"

Fornell nodded. "A boy. Around 7 years of age."

Sam looked to Gibbs for his reaction. His expression was sober, but not surprised. "You knew?" Gibbs nodded. Still shaken, Sam looked back at Fornell, her expression bewildered. "But, Amaia has never mentioned a child. Not once. How can a woman leave her child to be raised by others?"

"Her parents have custody. It was considered by the Spanish courts that they would provide a stable upbringing for the boy. Amaia's lifestyle was considered a little too erratic, and of course the father...."

Sam sank back in her chair. Fornell waited. It was obvious that at this moment Sam simply wasn't listening to him. Expressions of pain and confusion crossed her face. When she spoke, it was no more than a whisper, and only Gibbs, who was sitting beside her could hear what she said. "How could she? How could she?"

Gibbs placed a hand on her shoulder and pressed gently. She looked around at him. His voice was low and soft, "The courts thought it was best for the child. Just because a woman can give birth, doesn't make her a mother." Sam thought about that for a moment. To be honest, she couldn't really imagine Amaia as a mother. Amaia's major concern was herself. A child simply wouldn't factor in her plans for her life.

Fornell was studying the papers in front of him, trying to ignore the byplay across the table. "Mentxaka made some interesting new friends when he was in prison. Friends with other interesting friends. We only found out about Mentxaka when we were checking on other persons of interest."

Sam was suddenly alert. "These other interesting people wouldn't have been involved in running a bar here in D.C., by any chance?"

Fornell beamed at her. "Good girl." Sam glared at him, but let it ride. "Mentxaka's name came up when we started running checks on the names we were given after the raid on Franklin's. It didn't mean anything to anyone else, but..."

"You ran the checks on the three of us that Gibbs wanted. So you recognized the name."

Fornell gave Gibbs a startled look. "She knows about that?"

Gibbs grinned, "You said it yourself Tobias, she's one of us."

Fornell muttered something rude and turned back to his papers. "The contacts Mentxaka made in prison include medium level Al-Quaida operatives. It is possible that Mentxaka may no longer be simply a member of ETA. He may have become a terrorist for hire. Since visiting Bilbao, he has dropped off the radar. We believe that he may attempt to come to the United States. He is aware that his lover is here and that she is working for a U.S. Federal Agency."

Sam snorted. "He won't get in. He would have to have false papers and even if the papers were good, his finger prints would be in every law enforcement database. The moment his prints were taken at point of entry, alarm bells would ring."

Fornell grinned slyly at her. Sam looked at him. "You're going to ignore those alarm bells, aren't you?"

Fornell looked at Sam and then at Gibbs. "We know something really big is being planned. 9/11 level big. That's what the raid at Franklin's was really about. We need as much information as we can get. If we let Mentxaka in and watch him like a hawk, maybe, just maybe, he'll lead us to the ringleaders. We need your help, Sam, yours and Jethro's. Watch Amaia for any signs that he may have contacted her. Watch whom she meets. Make a note of where she goes when not at work. The security of this country may depend on it. Anything you discover, Sam, anything at all, let Gibbs know. Gibbs has my numbers, he'll contact me."

Sam looked at Gibbs, "I don't remember signing on to work with the FBI."

Gibbs expression was sour. "Me either." He looked across at Fornell. "We'll do it, Tobias. But I want it cleared with Director Vance first. I will not be a fall guy for the FBI, nor will I allow you to make Sam one."

Fornell pushed a piece of paper across the desk to Gibbs. "There's the authorization. It's been cleared at the highest level. You two know, and your Director knows. My Director knows. The Director of Homeland Security knows. The President knows. No-one else is to know. This is going to be a long term project. We are not expecting immediate results. We may not get any results. But we do not want another 9/11. Not now, not ever."

Gibbs nodded as he read the paper Tobias had handed him. Fornell gathered his papers together and got to his feet. He nodded to Sam, and then walked out of the room. Sam craned to read the paper that Gibbs was holding, and then looked up at Gibbs. "It's genuine?"

"It's genuine."

"What the heck is going on Gibbs? How the blazes can a good cop like Amaia be involved in international terrorism?"

"She may not be. Remember that. This Mentxaka may try to use her to get access to a U.S. Federal agency."

Sam sighed, "Perhaps. But how do I go downstairs and face her and act as if nothing has changed? An hour ago I had no idea that she had a terrorist lover and a child. She's no longer the person I thought I knew. What will I do?"

Gibbs got to his feet and looked down at her. "What will you do? You will carry on as before. If Amaia and Ros want details, let them think it's connected to the raid you three nearly ruined."

"Which it is," Sam pointed out.

Gibbs smiled, "As for Amaia, she hasn't changed. Your perception of her has changed. Everyone has secrets, Sam."

Sam grinned as she got to her feet, "You mean like the Mighty Mouse boxer shorts that Tony wears?"

Gibbs gave her a startled look. "How did you find out about those?"

Sam's grin got wider, "Amaia mentioned them. She couldn't work out why he had pictures of a mouse on his underwear. She was very confused."

"I'm not surprised," Gibbs retorted.

Laughing, they both left the conference room to head back to the squadroom.

"Tony screamed?"

"Like a terrified virgin on her wedding night," Gibbs assured Sam.

Sam gave a wicked little giggle at the mental image. "We burst through the door, guns drawn, and there, on the bed, was the cause of DiNozzo's screaming." He paused. "An iguana."

They were walking through the squadroom to their desks.

"A lizard? Tony was having a hissy fit over a lizard?" Sam laughed harder.

"Maybe Tony thought it had designs on his person," Gibbs said, a note of laughter in his voice. Good, she's loosening up. Hopefully she won't react badly when she sees Amaia.

Tony shot his boss a mildly hurt look, "I'd never woken up next to a reptile before."

McGee snorted, "Oh really? The number of women you date I would have thought that waking up like that was a regular occurence for you."

"Listen, McPest...."

McGee looked across at Gibbs, ignoring Tony, "Boss, Director Vance left a message for you and Sam to go directly to his office once Fornell had left."

Gibbs nodded and turned towards the stairs, gesturing for Sam to follow him.

The rest of the teams watched them go. "I wonder what that's all about?" McGee mused.

Ziva shrugged, "We will find out sooner or later."

Ros looked thoughtful. "They were closeted with Fornell for a good long while. I wonder if it has anything to do with the FBI target operation we almost blew."

Ziva looked across at her, "You mentioned that a few months ago. The three of you went out for a drink and chose the wrong bar."

Amaia nodded. "Yes. Neither Ros or I remember much about that night." She pulled a face. "Too much alcohol was drunk by us both. When we tried to pump Sam for information, Gibbs stopped us." I would give a lot to know what went on that night. I wonder....

Tony was watching Gibbs and Sam walk along the mezzanine to the Director's office. "Must have been something fairly major then. Especially for Vance to want to see Gibbs and Sam alone." I hate being left out of the loop.

McGee looked puzzled. "Why would the FBI target a bar?"

Ziva shrugged, "I am sure they had their reasons." She was watching Gibbs and Sam walk along the mezzanine.

Outside the door to the Director's outer office, Sam stopped and turned to Gibbs. "Christmas is coming up. Do we do gift exchanges?"

Gibbs raised his eyebrows. Now that's a change of subject. "Yeah. Why?"

Sam grinned evilly, "I wonder if I can find a soft toy iguana anywhere for Tony."

Gibbs laughed aloud. "Ask Abby."


"Abby owns a hippo that farts. If anyone can help you find a stuffed iguana, it will be Abs."

"Good point."

They went into the outer office. Director Vance's secretary looked up. "Go straight in Agent Gibbs, Officer Wallace. The Director is waiting for you."

Director Vance was seated at his desk when they entered. He had a mug of coffee in his hand. In front of him on the desk was an NCIS personnel file. He gestured across the room at the coffee machine. "Help yourselves to coffee." Without a word, Sam walked across to get coffee for herself and Gibbs. Vance looked faintly amused. Sam returned with two mugs, handing one to Gibbs. Standing side by side, they sipped coffee and looked at the Director. The Director looked back.

Vance leaned back in his seat. "While you were both with Special Agent Fornell, I have been having a long talk with his boss. I have assured him that NCIS will cooperate fully with intelligence gathering, but that if it becomes apparent that Amaia Bengoa is involved, then NCIS will handle the investigation." Vance looked across at Sam. "Wallace, based on your knowledge of Bengoa, do you believe it is possible that she could be knowingly involved in terrorism?"

Sam sipped her coffee, gathering her thoughts. She frowned slightly. "This morning, I would have said no. In fact, I threatened to chuck my coffee over Agent Fornell, when I thought he was insinuating that she was untrustworthy."

"And now?"

"I am not sure Director."

"Gibbs? Your gut telling you anything?"

Gibbs smiled wryly and shook his head. "I try to avoid Amaia Bengoa whenever possible."

Vance's eyebrows rose. Gibbs looks uncomfortable. Is his gut working overtime?

Sam grinned impudently, "You wouldn't have noticed, Director, because Amaia does have some ethics. She avoids married men. Otherwise she is what you might call opportunistic. Any reasonably good looking male under 60 that crosses her path.... she chases. Gibbs doesn't appear to care for being chased."

Gibbs shot her a look. Sam smiled sweetly at him. At last. One small payback for all those times he's made me blush. About one hundred and fifty to go.

Vance hid a grin. The hunter hunted. Samantha is right. Gibbs would not like that at all. Explains the uncomfortable look. Vance looked down at the file on his desk. "I have been reacquainting myself with Bengoa's file. There is nothing in here about a terrorist boyfriend and a child."

Sam pulled a face. "When Director Shepard recruited us she was only interested in getting three women who could be considered difficult." Gibbs fought to keep his face straight. Sam looked Vance in the eye. "There is information missing from all our files, Director."

Vance looked back at her. "You mean like the reason you were returned to uniform?"

Sam looked at him. Vance half smiled. "My research is a little more meticulous than the late Director Shepard's."

Sam looked away from him. Here it comes. She didn't see the compassionate look on Vance's face, nor the look he exchanged with Gibbs.

"Samantha," Vance's voice was gentle. "I want you to know that if such a situation were to arise whilst you are with NCIS, Agent Gibbs and I would back you to the hilt." Sam raised her head, her expression stunned. She looked from Vance to Gibbs and back again. Her vision misted with tears, and she hurriedly looked away.

Vance cleared his throat. Better change the subject. "Did Director Shepard give you any indication as to why she hired the three of you? That's one thing I have not been able to discover."

Sam shook her head, blinking rapidly to clear her vision. "No Director. No indication at all. I have my suspicions, but they are only that. No evidence."


"Off the record, Sir?"

"Off the record," Vance agreed.

"I came to suspect that we had been hired to teach Gibbs a lesson. When she spoke to me, I got the feeling that every word was being careful chosen to set us against Gibbs." Sam shrugged. "Could just be paranoia on my part." She saw the look on Gibbs' face. "What?"

Gibbs just shook his head and didn't answer. I told Ducky I was being shafted. Seems I'm not the only one who thought that.

"Would Director Shepard use NCIS resources in such a manner simply to discipline a senior agent?" Vance looked at them both.

Gibbs voice was low. "You know what happened with the Frog, Leon. What do you think?"

Vance sighed. "It's possible," he agreed.

Gibbs' expression was sour. "Even the FBI knew Jen was up to something, but they didn't know what."

"Did Fornell say that the day you met him out at Quantico? The day of the run?"

"Quantico? " Vance queried. "Run?"

Gibbs shrugged, "I set up a meet with Fornell, using the excuse of taking the girls on a training run on the FBI's track." No point in denying it.

Sam laughed, "Even under adversity Amaia was picking up men." She looked at Vance, "Amaia's unfit. She collapsed before we had gone a couple of miles. Ros stayed with her and I went after Gibbs. When Gibbs and I returned, there was a young FBI agent with them. He was very concerned about Amaia."

"FBI agent?" Vance's voice was quiet.

"Yes. Daniel Metcalfe. Amaia went out with him a few times." Sam's voice trailed off. "Oh God...."

"Did Agent Metcalfe talk about his job with the FBI to Amaia at all?" Vance wanted to know.

"I don't know. But one thing has just occurred to me. The first two men that Amaia picks up in the USA just happen to be federal agents."

"First two? Who was the other?" Vance demanded.

Sam looked at Gibbs, who nodded slightly. "Tony," she said.


Sam nodded. "We all met up in the squadroom on our first day. Tony's reaction when he saw Amaia was a classic. Later, Ros and I teased Amaia about the odds of the first man she picked up being an NCIS agent."

"It could be coincidence," Vance reminded her.

Gibbs snorted. Vance smiled. "However, Agent Gibbs doesn't think so, and neither do I. I distrust coincidences."

"Someone," Sam observed, "once said that coincidence is the Universe's way of saying 'pay attention'."

"Which is what we will do. Keep a close eye on Amaia, Sam. I understand that anything you come across you will pass on to Gibbs who will pass it on to Fornell."

Sam nodded. "I have Gibbs' number in my cellphone. If I had Fornell's in there it would look suspicious."

"What about physical evidence? Will you have difficulty getting anything like that to Gibbs? Won't the others find it unusual if you just disappear from the house?"

Sam smiled a sad little smile. "No Director. I often can't sleep at night. When that happens I just get in my car and drive." Both men looked at her. She tried for cheerful, "I know every fast food place with a 24 hour drive-thru in a 25 mile radius of D.C."

"Then you go back home and try to sleep?"

"It doesn't work like that Director. I won't sleep until I no longer hear that little girl screaming." Sam's voice was very quiet. "I have a blanket in the trunk of my car, and I keep a bag with several changes of clothes and cosmetics in there too. If I get too tired to drive I'll pull up and nap."

Both men looked at her with expressions of disapproval. I knew I shouldn't have said anything. "It doesn't happen a lot," she assured them. "Usually when I pick up takeout I head for here. Ducky's often here late, so is Abby. I share my takeout with one of them and find a corner to curl up in for a couple of hours."

So that's why she's always in so early, Vance thought. At least she comes here where she is safe.

Should have realized she had PTSD, Gibbs mused. I'm the last person to scold her, not when I work on my boat all night for similar reasons.

"I don't take risks," Sam assured them.

"I don't like it, "Vance told her, "But given your past, I can certainly understand it. I do, however, want your word that from now on you will ensure that your nocturnal wanderings always end at NCIS headquarters."

"Yes Director."

"Good." He looked at them both. "Keep me posted as to your discoveries."

Taking the hint, Gibbs put his coffee mug down and headed for the door, with Sam close behind him.

Sam sighed with relief as they exited the outer office. Out in the corridor Gibbs turned around sharply, his proximity pinning Sam against the wall; his eyes holding her there. She squeaked in surprise. Gibbs face was stern. "You should have come to me, Sam."


"Don't talk, just listen. I agree with Vance. No more napping in your car. This city is dangerous. I know you don't have a personal back up piece. Make sure you come here, or to my home."

"Your home?"

"You're not the only one who doesn't sleep much." Gibbs turned and headed towards the stairs. He looked back to where Sam was still leaning against the wall. "Move it. We haven't got all day."

Sam hurried after him down the stairs back to the squadroom.

Continued on page 5.

Latest page update: made by MargyW , Dec 19 2008, 9:33 PM EST (about this update About This Update MargyW Edited by MargyW

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