Agent Very Far Afloat, Part 2

Art By Jilly James


Title: Agent Very Far Afloat, Part 2
Author: Ladyholder
Series: Agent Very Far Afloat
Fandom: NCIS, Stargate: Atlantis
Pairing: Tony/Ian
Rating: R
Warnings: Some violence
Summary: The investigation comes to a head.
Wordcount: 12,766
Beta: Keira Marcos

Agent Very Far Afloat: Part One

– – – –

“Thank you for seeing me, Dr. Weir,” Tony said as he walked in the expedition leader’s office. He had spent more almost two weeks processing all his evidence, and he had a handle on that facet of the investigation. Now he needed to get a better handle on the people involved in it. That was why he was reaching out to Weir for some assistance.

“You’re welcome, Agent DiNozzo. After all, you are investigating the murder of one of my people. Do you have any leads?” Weir asked as she sat back in her chair

“I’ve got some, but I need to do some weeding out of my suspect pool, and that means I need to get into some files,” Tony admitted as he settled into the chair across from Weir. Opening the folder he carried, he pulled a single sheet of paper and handed it over.

Eyebrow raised, Weir took the page and started reading. “I’m surprised you’re using paper, Agent DiNozzo, most of the city is firmly paperless.”

“And all my reports will be filed by all electronic methods,” Tony confirmed, voice serene. “But any notes I generate during the investigation will be on paper during the investigation, because none of the computer geniuses here can hack that. After the case is solved, I’ll scan and add my paper notes to the file.”

“And what about the ATA positive people who can get into your office?” Weir asked as she looked over the top of his list.

“Well, ma’am, that will prove to be a bit… difficult,” Tony told her, a small smile spreading his lips.

Weir placed the page on her desk and looked at him. “How are you able to guarantee that?”

Tony wanted to shake his head at the insanity that was his life but didn’t. Exposing any weakness this early in the game was something he wasn’t comfortable with. He had a job to do, and as the only trained investigator on Atlantis, he needed to present a professional front. That meant that for now, he wouldn’t be cracking many jokes and using movie references to deflect. He needed to shoot straight, all the way.

Given that, he needed to let his boss know what he was capable of, so while he might want to hide it, Weir needed to know. “Just like the SGC, the medical personnel here demand a physical when you get here. From what I found out, Dr. Beckett has instituted a test to determine who has what percentage of Alteran ancestry. It’s painless and quick and low and behold, I’m somewhere in the low nineties. The only person on Atlantis who is stronger than me is Colonel Sheppard.”

“Well, that’s a surprise. And good to know that we have a security measure that is actually secure. Do you know if you are related to either Col. Sheppard’s or General O’Neill’s families?” Weir asked.

Tony shook his head. “I have no idea. That would be something for the people in Dr. Jackson’s department to look up, I expect. If he has someone investigating the genealogies of ATA carriers. And if so, I would like to get that information for my own peace of mind.”

“When I was in charge of the SGC, I think I saw that there was someone. I’ll email him to see if he has anything,” Weir told him with a nod. Turning back to the paper on her desk she ran a finger over one item. “Why do you want to have access to these files?”

“Because the contents of those files seem to have been a bone of contention with the deceased and one of my suspects,” Tony told her bluntly.

“And having one of the IT department crack Dr. Keller’s computer?” Weir pressed.

“Dr. Weir, someone killed her and part of the hunt to find that person is looking at everything related to the deceased. This is going to include her personal computer. I’m hoping that it might shed some light on who would be angry enough to kill her in such a manner,” Tony explained.

Weir leaned back and tapped her finger on the paper for several moments. Tony stared right back at her. When the tapping stopped, it seemed Weir had made up her mind, because she reached for her computer and started typing.

“I’m sending you the files on Hoff. I have an idea about what might have set Keller off about those events. However, it needs to be said that while we helped them with their vaccine, we did advise not to use it. Several times and at great volume at the end. The Hoffans still did, even in the face of a 50% mortality rate,” Weir explained.

Tony took a deep breath. He hadn’t known things had been that fucked up. No wonder ethics had come up. No doctor on Earth would have ever have used a vaccine with an efficacy rate of 50%. Well, Mengele might have, but that wasn’t the icon Tony wanted doctors he worked with to look up to. If they had protested, that was a point in their favor.

“That sounds horrific,” Tony said after several heartbeats contemplating that.

“It was.” Weir looked haunted for several seconds. “I will authorize IT to crack Keller’s computer, so expect one of the computer science division to be in your office in the next few hours.”

“Right, Thank you, Dr. Weir. I’ll be getting back to work. I’m collating all my results now and will be interviewing my suspects in the next several days,” Tony informed her.

“Thank you, Agent DiNozzo,” Dr. Weir told him, eyes level as she stared at him.

Tony nodded once before heading out. He had an after action report to read and if it were anything like the ones he had gotten from the SGC, the file would be big and detailed. But first, he needed to dig into what Keller was keeping locked up.

The urge to go back to his office and start reading was huge. Curiosity had always been one of his most besetting sins, and his job let him indulge it thoroughly. Before he gave in though, he wanted to get something to snack on.

One detour into the mess and he had acquired a snack tray along with a carafe of coffee and creamer. Chief Cooper was kind enough to give him a mix of fruits, vegetables and cured meats that would keep while he read. Juggling the tray, the coffee, and his folder, he made his way back to his office.

As he set everything down on the coffee table in front of his couch, Tony made a vow to break out the coffee maker and his stash. This going to the mess for coffee was bullshit. Actually, he wanted to get his whole study setup ready. Maybe see if he could get a small refrigerator in his office so he could keep some things on hand.

Staring up at his ceiling he drew in a deep breath and pushed away his daydreams. He had been through so many changes in so little time that it almost turned his head. There was no way he could ever have imagined being on an alien planet, eating alien foods and investigating a murder.

He alternated between munching on his lunch and unpacking his office. He had been living out of his boxes, but it was time to actually make his work areas appear professional. And that meant it needed to look like something more than a storage room. Unpacking the major items was easy enough, and he had cabinets to store everything in. Thanks to Siler and his knowledge of the storerooms at the SGC, all his office furniture was something other than government bland.

The boxes of stuff were turning up all sorts of goodies that he didn’t remember picking out. Not that he was upset about that because he wasn’t. Siler had done well by him. Case in point? His conference room table.

How in the hell Siler had managed to get the thing broken down and packed, he had no idea. Tony spent a memorable fifteen minutes getting it together and set his chairs around it. The whole setup looked very smart. Turning around, he stared at the length of the room. Was it bigger? Shrugging slightly, he made a note to talk to the colonel about what the city was capable of.

Atlantis was kind enough to allow the mounts he had for his TV to sink into the wall and stay steady when he had pressed them against the surface. He tugged on them, and they stayed put until he requested she let go, only then did the mount slide out. Patting the wall in thanks, Tony quickly attached the mount to the back of the TV and then hung it on the wall across from his couch. Twirling the cord in his finger, he looked around for a power outlet. He hadn’t seen one anywhere on Atlantis. Shrugging once, Tony rolled with the weird and introduced the plug to the wall. When he hit the power button, the TV came up with the standard snow pattern. Atlantis was officially awesome.

– – – –

A pleasant chime cut through his happy work haze, and Tony looked at his door, requesting Atlantis open it. On the other side was a small redheaded woman with a British flag on her shoulder and a trim figure. “Hi, I’m Dr. Alethea Pearson, head of IT, Dr. Weir said you needed some help?”

“Yes, Dr. Pearson, I do. I have a computer I need you to crack open for me and not talk about what you find,” Tony explained. He was very serious about his need for discretion.

Right then he missed Abby and McGee terribly. Having someone who was trained in forensics or as an investigator and able to hack was an awesome resource. He hadn’t known what he had had at his fingertips at the time, but he did now. And while he could make do with the people on Atlantis, it stuck somewhere in him to have to ask for help outside of NCIS. He chalked computer classes onto his mental list of wants and needs.

Cocking her head to the side, Dr. Pearson nodded. “I can do that.”

“Thank you,” Tony told her, eyes steady.

Glancing around he tried to find a spot for her to work. His inner office was right out because the murder boards were in there along with his computer. The lab was out too due to evidence handling rules. That left the rather large anteroom he had taken over and was turning into an interview room slash living room. The couch and chairs were set in a conversation group around the coffee table on one side and his new conference table with decent chairs on the other.

Waving at the table, Tony directed Dr. Pearson to sit down while he went next door to his lab. Patting the wall as he entered, Tony opened one of the two safe equipped filing cabinets and pulled Keller’s computer out. He signed the log to show what he had done and closed up the drawer. He only turned around when he heard the locks engage.

As he headed towards the door, he saw movement out of the corner of his eye and turned towards it. Atlantis had opened an inner door between the lab and his interrogation slash conference room. “Huh, that’s new.”

Pearson leaned over to look through before leaning back in her chair. “Atlantis does things like that for those she likes. Looks like you are one of the lucky ones.”

“Cool,” Tony murmured as he stepped on through. Maybe Atlantis had made his room bigger. The door closed behind him, and he mentally pressed the locks to close. Sliding the computer over to his loaner IT person, he sat down to watch her work.

“Well, whatever Dr. Keller was into, she didn’t want anyone to know what she was up to,” Pearson announced after several minutes. She sounded vaguely impressed, but also satisfied. “She’s got some really sophisticated firewalls and stuff here. Too bad I’m better than whoever set this up. And… done. I’ve disabled her wifi, so the computer can’t transmit anything when the gate is opened for the weekly updates. That should give you time to go through everything.”

“Thank you, Dr. Pearson,” Tony told her. Her forward thinking was a smart thing. “Can I get you to write up a report for me on what you did to get that unlocked?”

“Sure,” Pearson agreed with a smile. “That was honestly more fun than figuring out how the Ancients fucked up the computer core here.”

Tony cocked his head and stared at her for a moment. Scientists were odd, didn’t they try the simple stuff first? “Maybe they forgot to defrag it?”

“Maybe. I’ll send you the report in an hour,” she told him before heading out.

“Thank you for your assistance,” Tony called, shading his voice carefully. He didn’t want anything else from her, and his natural and habitual practice of flirting was not needed at right then.

He still got a bright and interested grin as the computer scientist headed out the door. Reaching out with his will, Tony engaged the locks to the outer door before turning back to the table and the computer resting on it. Time to find out what Keller had been up too.

Three hours later, Tony didn’t know if he wanted to get sick or find a punching bag to try to destroy. Keller was far worse than Tony had expected. He had been reasonably certain she had been playing with Yakiu, but it seemed the kid wasn’t the first. From what Keller’s notes said she collected young men everywhere she went. Brent and Ethan both figured in her notes, and her comments had been very pungent.

Keller also took videos of her encounters. She truly had a type, young, male, mixed-race, well hung and easily led. She seemed to use the kids and then drop them as soon as she was done with them. And she didn’t seem to care how attached the kids got to her if it got them in her bed. Once she was done with them, she seemed almost happy to rip into her victims to drive them off.

Her tastes in fucks made it very odd that she had started pursuing a new target when she came on the city. Whoever had directed her, had managed to conceal their address, and directed her to ‘make friends with him’. In another missive, she was directed to ‘be more friendly’. The message he saw between the lines seemed to be ‘You need to get what we sent you out there for!’ more than anything else.

Tony had no idea who Keller was supposed to have gotten close to, but he was getting hints. From the replies back, it seemed that she wasn’t happy with the directions because she fired back that ‘he’ wasn’t as available for assignations as she had been promised. If she was going to be friends with ‘him’, ‘he’ needed to step up. Whether he knew it or not.

Clicking the last unsent email, Tony tried not to grind his teeth. For a woman who had looked like a fashion model, Keller was a stone cold bitch. Drawing in a deep breath, he let it out slowly. His personal opinions had no place in the investigation, and he needed to remember that. Opening his eyes, he started reading.

Five minutes later, Tony leaned back and pinched the bridge of his nose. Keller and her employers had been after McKay. With Atlantis back in contact with Earth, they had seen an opportunity. They thought that McKay was now more valuable than he had been before. After a year on Atlantis, they figured he was even more of an expert in Ancient tech. He might even have figured out how to make them a ZPM. The letter that was unsent was filled with Keller bitching about how unmanageable McKay was, how he wasn’t grateful for her attention

Well, that put a different spin on Kusanagi’s stories about Keller’s habit of hanging out in the lab. Tony kept poking around the computer, trying to find if there was anything else hidden. Every file he opened gave him something new to try to deal with.

Sitting back Tony tried to put a picture of his victim together. Keller seemed to have enjoyed being a trauma surgeon, and then the SGC’s alien ME. She had been fascinated by how the aliens were put together. She had been directed to seduce McKay when the man was nothing like the type of man she liked to sleep with.

She also seemed to be a spy. He had no idea when she had become one, but she was. His poking around on the computer showed a member of items that she should not have. It seemed that Keller had managed to get her hands on the Hoff file and the specifics of the vaccine. She had some notes on it and how it could be improved or even weaponized.

What a fucking mess, Tony thought. Keeping his impartiality, in this case, was going to be damn hard.

Standing up, he walked over to where his work computer was stored in his office and opened it up, checking his email as room as a matter of course. Dr. Pearson had written the report he had requested and had even given him directions on how to get back into the computer. Good to know.

Opening the email account he had been given by the SGC, Tony found the email from Dr. Weir. Walking back out of his office and dragging his office chair behind him. He grabbed his coffee, and he settled into the embrace of the chair and started reading the Hoff file.

Thirty pages later he was scrambling for the toilet off his inner office to vomit. Dr. Weir hadn’t been kidding. The death rate for the Hoffan vaccine really was 50%, and for those it killed, it did so fast, horrifically, and there was no determining who would live or die. Young, old, sick or healthy, it didn’t matter. They all died and then the Wraith came and did their best to kill the survivors so the vaccine couldn’t spread.

The expedition didn’t come off clean in his estimation. Yes, Beckett had protested when the Hoff had started their suicide effort, but before then, he had been enthusiastically helping them make the damn thing. And he was still tinkering with it from the dates on the notes he had been seeing. The fatality rate had gone down due to his work, but it was still too high. If it was up to him, there was no way he would let anyone use the thing. Playing Russian Roulette gave you better odds than the Hoff vaccine did.

Washing out his mouth with the water from his small sink, Tony drew in a deep breath. He actually agreed with Keller on something. Beckett needed his ethics examined. And if they were as bent as he thought they might be, Tony wanted to send him and his people back through an ethics course, post haste. And if that didn’t cure them, he wanted them somewhere where they could never, ever harm another living being.

Tapping the little communicator in his ear, Tony made a call. “Colonel Sheppard, this is Agent, DiNozzo. Can you come to my office, please.”

“I’ll be there in ten minutes, Agent DiNozzo,” Sheppard answered promptly.

His habit of stocking his office for extended cases was already paying off, Tony thought ruefully. Brushing his teeth took about a minute, and he used the time to inspect himself. Splashing some water on his face, he freshened up. He didn’t look as horrified as he felt, nor did he look like he had just vomited.

A glance at his watch showed he had five minutes to take care of the evidence he had left lying about out in his anteroom. Tony walked out to the conference room table, closed up Keller’s computer and returned it to his evidence safe before picking up a digital recorder. When he walked back in, he found Sheppard waiting for him.

“Did Atlantis tell you I had the door locked?” Tony asked. He needed to know, because if she hadn’t, he was going to have a talk with the city about confidentially and how his rooms needed to be secure.

“She resisted until I pushed,” Sheppard admitted. “There’s not much that she’ll stop me from getting into if I want to.”

“Wonderful. I really need to talk to her about keeping you out unless I’ve given the okay. Since I’ll be dealing with criminal investigations, I’ll have evidence that needs to stay secure. And you aren’t in the chain of evidence for this investigation.”

The nod Sheppard gave him was grudging but accepting. “I can see that. I’ll do my best to respect what you are have going on here.”

“Thank you, Colonel. Now, I called you down here because I need to talk to you about a few things I’ve found in the course of my investigation so far,” Tony recited the time and date for the interview. “This is going to be my interview with you about Dr. Keller.”

It took thirty minutes for them to get to the really interesting stuff. “So was she poking around in areas she had no business in? Like down in the hard science labs?” Tony asked.

Sheppard cocked his head to the side and seemed to be thinking about it. “She was on the Daedalus when Caldwell and his crew pulled our bacon out of the fire. Afterwards, we had a lot of wounded and the ships medical department spent a good amount of time on the city. Beckett was accepting all the help he could get. It turned out to the be a good thing when Lt. Ford went off the rails after he was pulled out of the water where he had been thrown with a Wraith attached to him. From the reports, he was instantly addicted to the enzyme the inject their victims with and wanted more. I think it was Keller who managed to stab him with enough sedative to drop an elephant, but they kept him from going AWOL.”

Tony made a note to check up on Lt. Ford. He wasn’t familiar with what had happened to the younger man so he would need the whole file. “So while the crisis was ongoing, she kept her head down and worked?”

“As far as I knew, she did,” Sheppard admitted. “But I wasn’t looking at her for anything other than being a trauma doctor for my people.”

“And when did that change?” Tony asked.

“When she ripped into one of the kids off the Daedalus in the middle of the mess,” Sheppard told him with a wince. “Poor kid was apparently a fling she had while on the ship, and once she was on the city, she didn’t want him anymore. When she was done, the kid slunk out of the mess with tears running down his face. Keller didn’t even bat an eye and went back to her meal as cool as she pleased.”

“She sounds like a few of the guys I went to college with. Most of them loved seducing the young and fresh, rolling them into bed for as long as they were interesting and then dropping their victims when they got bored.”

“Yeah, that sounds a lot like what Keller did to that kid,” Sheppard told him. “I held a meeting of my officers and NCO’s to have them warn the younger soldiers. I wasn’t going to have someone like that cutting a swath through my men. I suggested that Caldwell get his kid with Heightmeyer, but I couldn’t tell you if he did.”

Tony nodded before closing out the interview. Sheppard wasn’t in his suspect pool, but he was very close to one of them. That limited what he could do. But he needed some more insight into his suspect pool and Sheppard was as close as he was getting to an impartial source for three.

“I need some insight into some of the people I have on my lists, Colonel. Can you refrain from saying anything while the investigation is ongoing?” Tony asked.

“I’ll do my best. I’m pretty sure Rodney’s on your list since he was the one to find her,” Sheppard agreed.

“He is on the list,” Tony admitted.

Sheppard sighed. “Okay, I’ve been around McKay when he’s killed something. He shakes for hours afterward. Less now than when he started on my team, but it’s still something that he’s not used to. When he came through the gate, he wasn’t shaking. He did throw up, but from what I saw of Keller’s corpse, I don’t say as I blame him.”

Tony shook his head in sympathy. “I’ve been to countless murder scenes and a wretched number of autopsies, so I can’t say as I blame him either. I threw up on the sides of many murders before I learned how to deal with it. And I’m not even counting the times I’ve used my gun.”

“I’m sure that he’s going to get used to using his gun and what happens when he uses it. I’m just not thrilled that he’s going to have to get that experience.” Sheppard took a deep breath and nodded. “Who else?”

“Carson Beckett,” Tony said, eyes level.

“Carson is… He’s a good doctor, a dedicated researcher, and a good man. But if I had been given a voice in the selection process, I wouldn’t have chosen Carson for the CMO position,” Sheppard said slowly. Tony was sure that the colonel was picking his words carefully.

“What about Keller’s accusations of ethics violations?” Tony asked. Hoff was fresh on his mind.

“Hoff?” the colonel asked. At Tony’s nod, Sheppard sighed. “Yeah, I thought so. We offered to help the Hoffans with what we had been told was a drug that would keep the Wraith from feeding. I’m not going to lie, I was hoping the Hoffan drug would work.”

“And the Wraith prisoner?” Tony pressed.

The Colonel stared at him, no expression on his face. “If I had been given my way, I would have shot the Wraith long before he went to Hoff. The fact that we had him available made him a resource for Carson to use.”

“And you didn’t speak up about it?”

“Only that if we had been on Earth, the Wraith would have eaten the Geneva Convention when Dr. Weir commented that we needed to respect it,” Sheppard told him with a shrug. “Just so you know, Agent DiNozzo, I’ve been cleared of any wrongdoing concerning Hoff.”

“Right.” Tony leaned back and stared at the man sitting with him. Sheppard was calm, and at peace with the decisions, he and the expedition had made. “Okay, I’ll stop needling you about that part, but given that Keller brought up ethics violations, do you think that Beckett agreed too easily?”

“Yes. It was a very easy decision for him. He wasn’t happy with the fatality rate though and tried to argue for more time to raise the survival rate. But we weren’t the ones making the decision on its use. We did what we could, but the Hoff wanted to be protected.” Sheppard leaned back and rubbed a spot on the bridge of his nose as if it hurt. “Even at the cost of half of their population.”

“Okay, so last person… Kusanagi.” Tony pushed some of his questions about Beckett aside. “Apparently, Dr. Kusanagi wasn’t happy about how much haunting of the hard sciences teams Keller was doing.”

“Miko is the third in command of the Science Department after Dr. Z. If she thought someone was where they shouldn’t be, she had every right to kick them out.” Sheppard relaxed slightly as he passed on the quirks of working with the hard sciences.

His meeting with the colonel broke up not long after that and Tony grabbed the debris from his lunch to take back to the mess. Chief Cooper wasn’t on duty, but he made sure to thank her second for the food and coffee. Being kind to the people who made the food he ate and cleaned up the common spaces he used was always the best bet.

“MS1 Jones, thank you for lunch, it was great. Do you know if it is possible to get a mini-fridge for my office?” Tony asked as he policed his tray.

“Well, we don’t have many available, sir. And most of the ones we do have are in use. I can check to see if we have anything coming on the next Daedalus run,” Jones informed him.

“Cool, thank you,” Tony said with a smile. “If you can get one for me, that would be awesome.”

“You’re welcome, Agent DiNozzo. Can we get you anything else?” Jones asked.

Tony thought of the interviews he needed to conduct and nodded. His suspects were just that, suspects. He had masses of evidence, but he needed to confirm some things. Giving his suspects something they could play with was him being nice. “Yeah, if it’s not too much trouble? Can I get two insulated carafe’s of coffee, a few coffee cups, and some bottled water?”

“Sure, Agent DiNozzo, we can do that.” Jones got the tray assembled for him then cocked his head as if he was considering something. Snapping his fingers, he nodded his head once before looking out into the dining portion of the mess. Calling out, he got the attention of one of the tables. “Corporal Babin, are you doing anything in the next twenty minutes?”

“I’m off duty, MS1. What can I do for you?” asked one of the Marines sitting around a table in the mess.

Tony stared out at the kid in question and nodded. Babin was a good looking kid who looked vaguely familiar. The name also caught his attention. He would need to look over his files to see if he had run into him professionally.

When Jones waved the kid over, he got up from his table and headed over to them. Jones handed him one of the trays filled the goodies he was gathering. “I need you to help Agent DiNozzo with these.”

“Sure, MS1. Where are we going, sir?” the kid asked.

“Dr. Weir has me set up on level forty in the main tower. One big lab with a dual office set up next door,” Tony told him. “I’m on the inner walls, and Atlantis has connected everything with an attached head. I can find it without a problem, but giving firm directions?”

He still had no idea how Atlantis numbered anything, and Tony added it to the list of things he had to learn.

From the way Babin was nodding, he at least had a clue where Tony was located. “I think I know those rooms, sir. They sound like the ones that Dr. Weir set aside for a city police force.”

“Good to know that she was thinking ahead. The rooms are great,” Tony said with a smile. To keep from feeling like a total freeloader, he grabbed a tray and added a few more goodies to his haul. From the look MS1 Jones gave him, he was more amused than anything else at his actions.

Tony managed some basic conversation on the way back to his office. It seemed that there was little in the way of true recreational activities. Most of the guys had some form of electronic games, but there was little in the way of physical games, other than sparring matches. Basketball, football, soccer, baseball/softball, they all seemed to be missing.

While it wasn’t part of his job description, he was too much of an athlete not to want to play a few games. And if he needed to get General O’Neill involved, he would. Maybe he could start something that would help everyone relax.

Arriving at his door, he nodded. “This is it. Thank you, Corporal.”

“You’re welcome, sir. I hope you find what you are looking for,” Babin told him as he entered the public facing room. The corporal set the tray on the conference room table and headed out the door with a way.

As he fussed everything into place, Tony looked around. Maybe he would see about co-opting the room on the other side of the one he was in.

– – – –

His interviews with Brent, Ethan, and Kusanagi were pretty basic. He managed to get them all in that evening and Tony could tell that while they were nervous, they seemed happy to tell their side of the story. None of them had liked the victim.

They were the only ones he had time to interview that night, so he reached out to his last two suspects and asked them to come in in the morning. McKay and Beckett agreed, and Tony tried not to sigh in relief. The unused pieces of fruit were stored, and he added the cups for the morning.

The walk back down to the mess was relatively quick. The two empty carafes were in one hand, and he was balancing the tray in the other. He had never lost the skill after a short stint as a waiter while in college.

As he walked in, he saw that Chief Cooper was back on station. “Chief! Thank you, MS1 Jones and your people were excellent to me earlier in the day.”

Cooper turned to look at him and smiled. “Agent DiNozzo! I’m glad to hear that. How can I help you this evening? Have you eaten?”

“I was hoping for help, and no, I haven’t,” Tony admitted.

“Go find a table, sir. I’ll be there in a few minutes. Do you have any food allergies?” Cooper directed him with a smile.

Tony shook his head. “No allergies at all. But I was hoping to taste some more of Pegasus?”

“I can do that,” Cooper told him with a nod. “Scoot!”

He scooted. The table he picked was by the windows and had a good view of the ocean around them. The mess was several floors below his office, but it wasn’t inconvenient for him. The transporters that functioned as elevators made getting around the city an easy thing to do. Tony pulled one of the small notebooks he used for notes out and jotted down one to see if he could get a log of users for the transporter by the murder site.

He was jotting down his impressions from his interviews when Copper arrived at the table with a tray heaped with dinner. “Oh, that looks great!”

“Thank you,” Cooper told him with a big smile.

“So I recognize the potatoes, but what is this?” Tony asked as he poked at what had to be a Pegasus vegetable. The bread also had a slightly different smell to it than normal, and he was curious about it. “And there’s fresh bread? Is it from Earth?”

Cooper laughed lightly as she sat down and got ready to eat. “The only thing from Earth on that plate are the potatoes. You have a portion of near-bison from this planet, the beans are originally from a planet full of kids, the grain that made that bread we got in trade for salt, and the potatoes were grown in the hallways.”

“That is so cool. Thank you, this all looks lovely,” Tony said before he started on his meal. Every bite was delicious, and he was very complimentary as they worked their way through their plates. As he finished his last bite, he sat back, thoroughly happy with his meal. “Do you know if the grain can make a good pasta flour?”

The mess specialist rocked her hand from side to side. “It’s not the greatest at it, but it makes a decent noodle. I would put it midline. The exploration teams haven’t come across anything that’s close to durum for semolina, but they are looking. Well, they’re looking for a lot of things for us, flours are just the start.”

The conversation continued and centered around food in all the ways to get it, grow it, and make it. It was the most fun he’d had in ages.

– – – –

The next morning saw Tony in his office, updating his boards with all the new information he had gotten. Tapping one name, he sighed. He needed to complete his interviews. The sound of his door chime pulled him out of the secure office, and he made sure to lock the door behind him well. Both his interviews were with strong gene carriers and neither needed to see what was in that room.

Opening the door, Tony was expecting to see Carson Beckett and instead found Chief Cooper. “Chief?”

Cooper gave him a big sunny smile before thrusting the tray in her hands into his. “I know you’re going to be working in here for a while. Since getting down to my realm is going to be iffy, I brought you some snacks, tea, and coffee.”

“Thank you,” he said, rather flabbergasted. He hadn’t expected something like this.

“Welcome!” she chirped out before walking down the hall.

Looking down at the tray, he shrugged. Setting the tray on the table, he unloaded it quickly. Carson Beckett was his first interview, and he needed to set the scene. He got a fresh notebook and pen for his side of the table and made sure that there was one for the CMO. The treats the Chief gave him went down the middle.

A second chime broke the silence and Tony reached out to Atlantis to request the door be opened. As the door opened, he bounced once in delight at how easy that had been. The man on the other side gave him an indulgent smile before walking in.

“Hello, lad. You wanted to interview me?” the CMO asked as he looked around the room.

“Yeah, I need to talk to you about Dr. Keller and the argument you two had in the middle of the infirmary,” Tony informed him, eyes level.

“Oh. That,” Beckett said with a sigh. He sat down at the table and rested both hands on the surface. “Hoff was… Wretched. There’s no other word for what happened there. We offered our help, and they took it with open arms. As we worked with them, we managed to make their dream come true.”

Tony nodded. “And then it turned into a nightmare.”

“Yes.” Beckett nodded back.

“So what happened when Keller called you on the possible ethical violations regarding the whole Hoff event?”

Beckett took a deep breath and started talking.

– – – –

When the CMO walked out, Tony leaned back in his chair. Keller had apparently had a point. Everyone’s ethics in the Hoff debacle had been more than a bit bent. The only saving grace for anyone was that they hadn’t advocated for what the Hoff had done and in fact, had argued against it.

Ripping the pages of his notes off the pad, he added them to his files in the office. When he walked back out, McKay was sitting at the conference table, sipping on a cup of coffee. “Welcome to my office, Dr. McKay,” Tony said, voice dry.

“Did you bring me here to do something to me, Agent DiNozzo?” McKay asked.

Tony snorted softly in amusement. “This isn’t my parlor, Dr. McKay and you aren’t a fly. Nor am I interested in you like that. I wanted to talk to you about Dr. Keller.”

“Well, that’s a letdown,” McKay told him, eyes frank. “Dr. Keller was on the station for seven weeks. She worked under Carson and seemed to be a decent doctor, for a voodoo practitioner. When I asked her what she was doing, she told me without blowing me off and took me seriously when I mentioned my allergies and medical conditions.”

Tony made a note to check on those. “So she was a good doctor in your opinion?”

“Well, she didn’t kill me, she listened, and she seemed not to be hated by the nurses, so I guess she was okay,” McKay told him, voice level. “Other than that, I didn’t care what she did, as long as she stayed out of my way.”

“Right.” Tony made another note on his pad and then put it face down before crossing his fingers over it. “Why don’t you cut the bullshit, doctor? I get that you aren’t a people person, but this obnoxious genius thing has got to grow old after a while.”

McKay sat still for sacral heartbeats, staring at him with hard blue eyes. Tony sat and let him, utterly unconcerned. The other man wasn’t any worse than Gibbs or the various serial killers he had sat across a table from.

“You’re interesting, Agent DiNozzo,” McKay murmured. “Fine, Dr. Jennifer Keller was an acceptable fit for the short term billet she was in, but she was already making waves in my science divisions, Miko wanted her gone for her habit of stalking my labs, Carson wanted her gone because she called him on his slightly flexible ethics when it comes to experimentation and I wanted her gone before she got her hooks into one of the younger scientists.”

And that was more situational awareness than he had expected. Tony admitted to herself. And yet, useful. “From what Dr. Kusanagi was paying, Keller was trying to get your attention.”

“I really don’t know why,” McKay admitted. “The last time I dated a woman was undergrad, and despite my appreciation on Sam Carter, that’s more for her brains than for her packaging.”

Tony snorted softly in amusement. Having met Colonel Carter, he understood the reference, but he had to say she was a very beautiful woman, too. “So, her gaydar was broken?”

McKay cocked his head to the side and Tony could almost see the calculations going on behind his eyes. “Either hers was or whoever sicced her on me had broken gaydar. Which is utterly stupid, I’ve never hidden my preferences.”

Tony tried to figure out who would deal with the mess on the Earth end and eventually gave up. He would leave that up to O’Neill, Morrow, and Hammond.

“All right, leaving that aside for the moment. What caused you to force open the door to Keller’s room?” Tony asked.

“I don’t know if you’ve noticed yet, but Atlantis nudges people to be in certain places when needed. Since the colonel was the off the city, I was the gene carrier with the highest clearance as far as she’s concerned. As soon as she detected the problem, she got me,” McKay explained.

“And when you went in?” Tony pressed.

“I’ve been in lab accidents before. Experimental engineering on the scale I work on isn’t always safe,” McKay told him. Tony noticed that the scientist hadn’t looked away from him, instead staring right at him the whole time. “Given what I do, some of the accidents have been horrific, so Keller’s not the first body I’ve had to handle.”

Leaning back Tony stared at the scientist seated across from him. “Thank you, Doctor. I think we’re good.”

McKay saluted him with his coffee cup and walked out. Tony didn’t breathe easy until his door closed behind him and he could lock it. He was damn glad that man had found science, because if he had found crime, McKay could have easily become a real life Lex Luther. Only smart enough to not let anyone know who he was. Catching him would have been the work of decades if he had even screwed up enough to reach the notice of the law.

Walking back to the inner office Tony added the information he had gotten to his walls. Glancing over all the information Tony tried to figure out how it all fit in. He could see the edges of the killer, the motive, and the murder, but only the edges.

Rubbing his hands over his face, he raised them to scrub them through his hair. It rubbed him utterly wrong to allow a murder to stay free, but he needed to find something else to think about. If he had a distraction, his brain could process everything he had in it and come up with an answer.

Since he didn’t have access to the internet, ‘rate my ass’ sites or even cow noises sites, he had to do more than sit and zone. And that meant he needed a few things. His backpack was packed with all the standard supplies, he had a coffee cup full of good java, and he had a tablet loaded with the maps of Atlantis.

Tony decided to start at the start of the tower and work his way down. There was a small observation area at the very top, and he paused to enjoy the view. Moving down got him to a spaceship bay. He spent some time in there, talking to the men and women who serviced them.

Puddle jumpers were awesome little craft that were great fun to sit in and run simulations in. He made a note to get with the colonel to see if he could get official lessons. Because he really wanted to take one of them out for real and cross an item off his bucket list. What kid didn’t want to pilot a spaceship?

Eventually, he had to leave and let everyone get back to work. Next stop was the control room. Tony wandered around poking everything that caught his attention.

“You know you’re freaking people out, right?” Sheppard asked from behind Tony as he examined a spot on the floor.

“I know. But they’ll live,” Tony answered absently. “There’s something right under this spot.”

“Really? Let me see,” Sheppard dropped down to one knee and stared at the spot that had caught Tony’s attention.

“So it’s got my attention. It really wants my attention, but it seems to like you better,” Tony muttered.

“Yes, yes it does. So what happens if I touch it?” Sheppard asked as he reached out to brush the spot on the floor.

A square of the floor flashed once, and a plinth rose out of the floor.

“Cool,” Tony whispered out before standing. Leaning forward, he clasped his hands behind his back and looked it over. The text meant nothing to him. Well, almost nothing. “Is that the phrase for ‘activation’?”

Sheppard stared at it for a moment before he nodded. “It seems to be,” he agreed before brushing the face of the plinth with a finger.

The city seemed to stutter for a second and then come back to life. Tony hadn’t been an Atlantis long, but even he could tell she was running smoother.

– – – –

“What in the hell did you two nut-jobs do?” McKay yelled at them from the top of the stairs.

“Made sure that the city is ours?” Sheppard called back. He was staring at the plinth with his head cocked to the side like he was listening to something.

“Want to explain that?” McKay asked as he walked down to stand beside them.

“I wanted to get a handle on the city. Since I’m the Agent Afloat for Atlantis, I need to know where everything is in the city. So I started exploring. When I got down here, I noticed something odd about the floor,” Tony reported.

“And I followed behind him, and Atlantis was nice enough to raise the spot up and show us the plinth,” Sheppard further explained. “Activating the plinth locked us in place as the people in charge of the city.”

“Huh.” McKay stared at the plinth.

“Yeah, the city sounds a little happier now that we’ve done that,” Sheppard commented.

Tony hummed once in agreement. “Well, if you don’t have anything else for me, I’m going to keep exploring.”

McKay turned to stare at him before waving his hands in some way that had meaning to him. “Aren’t you supposed to be catching a killer? Instead of walking around finding unknown devices?”

“Test’s take time, Dr. McKay. I’m not going to stand over my equipment and watch the timer countdown,” Tony told him evenly.

McKay threw his hands up before he huffed. “Fine. Yes, unless you feel anything weird happening, you should be fine. There were no weird energy spikes or beams of light, so make a stop in medical for a quick exam to make sure and then you can go on your way.”

“Thank you, Doctor,” Tony told him without a hint of sarcasm.

Medical was an easy space to find. He made sure that he had his scan and then he started observing everyone. Beckett seemed to run a tight ship, and none of his people were gathering around the water cooler, bitching about life. Marking the faces of the doctors and nurses, Tony left. He would try to talk to everyone later, in the mess, when they had time.

The rest of his afternoon was decent. There were no other surprises and Tony was happy with that. He managed to hit all the high points on the maps he had been given, and he locked each location in his memory. He found some minor wonders as well, like a room that had a fountain bubbling away in the center. Wide and deep, he had peeked in and seen the shape of fish darting in and around the depths. There was a box filled with kitchen scraps and a sign telling people it was okay to feed them.

Tony obliged, and the fish that rose to the surface weren’t what he had expected. Bright scaled, large and subtly different, they didn’t look anything like the fish he was used to from Earth.

Checking his watch, he tried to figure out if it was time for dinner. Shrugging, he made a decision. He was going to go back to his quarters, shower and then head down to the mess for some food. Then maybe he would spend a few hours staring at his boards.


“Agent DiNozzo, we need you in the main conference room,” Chuck Campbell’s voice rang in his ear.

“Do I have five minutes to get there?” Tony asked as he started to shut down his computer. He was in the lab, collating the evidence and trying to understand where he was being pointed. The evidence was what led to the perpetrator of the crime, and he had to let it. Even if he was starting to dread the conclusion he was reaching.

“Yes, sir,” Chuck said, voice amused. “There’ll be coffee too since Dr. McKay’s included.”

“Thank you,” Tony said as he grabbed his tablet and his travel mug. He was drinking tea today and made sure to top off from the carafe he had prepared at the start of his workday.

When Tony made it to the conference room, he could feel his curiosity catch fire. The whole of the command staff was present. Since he had nothing new to report, he was reasonably sure the meeting wasn’t about him and his investigation.

Sliding into a seat by Sheppard’s 2IC, he shared a look with Lorne who shrugged back. It seemed like he wasn’t the only one in the dark.

“Thank you all for getting here so quickly,” Weir said as she walked into the room.

“You’re welcome. Why are we here, Elizabeth?” Sheppard asked from his spot further down the table.

“We’re here because we just got a communication from the R&R camp we have on the mainland. It seems that Ford broke free, stole the remaining amount of Wraith enzyme we have stored there to help his step down program and then disappeared into the surrounding countryside,” Weir announced as she slid into her chair at the head of the table.

Oh, shit on a shingle, Tony thought as both Sheppard and Lorne stiffened and glared at the expedition leader. It seemed that someone had overstepped themselves. Sheppard turned to stare at her and drew in a sharp breath. “When did you find this out?” he demanded.

“Forty-five minutes ago,” Weir looked at him straight on. “I consulted with Carson and Kate to see what Aiden’s mental state was. It’s not good. The weaning process has been very slow, and Aiden’s been fighting it the whole way.”

Sheppard took a deep breath and obviously counted to ten. “Dr. Weir, you’ve known that one of my men has been missing for forty-five minutes and you are just now informing me?”

“He’s on this planet, lad. And he can’t have gone far, so the decision was made to inform you in this meeting,” Beckett told him. Tony he could tell he was confused as to why Sheppard was upset.

From the way Sheppard was pinching the bridge of his nose, he was holding onto his temper with an effort. When he took a deep breath, Tony sat back to watch how he handled things. “Dr. Weir, Lt. Ford is one of my men. That means I am responsible for him. Any charges to his circumstances, I need to know, first thing. Waiting more than an hour to tell me that someone under my command is in trouble is inexcusable and I thought you knew this.”

Two spots of color appeared on Weir’s cheeks and then she nodded. “I didn’t even think of it, Colonel. However, I will remember if anything like this ever happens again.”

Sheppard turned hard green eyes to stare at Beckett, and the doctor stared back, a bit confused at why the colonel was angry. After several heartbeats, the colonel apparently decided to explain why he was upset. “Doctor, as far as the Air Force is concerned, I am where the buck stops for Lt. Ford. Right now, he’s not in his right mind so I have to stand for him. That means I need to know what his mental state is and how he is progressing in his detox. Him doing a runner could result in a number of adverse consequences for him.”

Beckett drew in a sharp, quick breath and nodded. “Understood, Colonel. Lt. Ford has been going through a truly wretched withdrawal from the Wraith enzyme. I would almost say it’s worse than heroin. He wants the feeling he gets from each dose and has been violent about demanding a new hit. Since we don’t have much, the doses have been small and as far apart as we can manage,”

“So what, you think he took the remaining amount of this enzyme? Does he think you have more?” Tony asked.

“I don’t know if he thinks we have more, but we have a camera in the clinic, Agent DiNozzo,” Carson Beckett told him. “It shows him breaking into the drug store we had on site and taking the enzyme. Thankfully he didn’t kill anyone when he did it.”

“This enzyme? Is it in a vial? Or is it in separate hypos?” Tony asked.

“Separate hypo’s,” Becket reported. “Why?”

“Because if he’s a junkie, he’s going to want to shoot up. If he has a limited amount of his drug, he’s going to have to be careful with what he has and desperate for more,” McKay explained, voice quiet.

“And we don’t have any,” Beckett told the room. “We were going to see if any could be obtained when the various Teams went out.”

“I wouldn’t have authorized that,” Sheppard told him, eyes hard. “Killing a Wraith is incredibly dangerous, and I wouldn’t put my men at risk for that. Not hunting down a Wraith just for a new batch of the enzyme. Can we synthesize it?”

“Uhm, okay.” Beckett seemed slightly nonplussed at Sheppard’s declaration. “No, we can’t. It’s an incredibly complex chemical compound that we’ve just started to tease at the edges of. With our only supply being used to wean Lt. Ford off of, we just have the smallest amounts left.”

“If I can interrupt?” Tony broke into the staring contest between the two men. “Why can’t we find Lt. Ford on our sensors? I’ve been told they can detect life signs from space.”

McKay turned to look at him and shook his head. “Because we picked that spot because the rocks in the area meant inhibit both Ancient and Wraith scanners. As long as Ford stays within a set area, he can stay under our sensors.”

“How much room does he have?” Tony asked.

“Two thousand square miles, roughly,” Sheppard murmured. “I’ll be having my men search for him.”

“Okay, I get that. Dr. Weir? Do you know if General O’Neill has contacted that sniper I recommended when I was brought into the SGC?”

“I don’t want to shoot him, Agent DiNozzo,” Sheppard snapped.

“And I don’t want him shot,” Tony fired back. “Agent Edgerton is the top Fugitive Retrieval Specialist in the FBI, not just their best sniper. If your men and your sensors can’t find this kid, having someone who can physically track him would be a good thing.”

“Right, I’m sorry for saying that,” Sheppard apologized, rubbing the back of his head with one hand. Tony nodded his acceptance of the apology. He wasn’t like Gibbs to refuse one out of bruised pride.

“General O’Neill has reached out to the FBI and Agent Edgerton. Agent Edgerton has accepted the position with the SGC and will be on the Daedalus on her return trip,” Weir announced as she read from a tablet. “It looks like we have a tracker and he’ll be here in just over three weeks.”

Tony tried not to let his relief show. He had missed Ian badly, but more he wanted someone who was both a trained investigator and someone he could work with on the city with him. That Ian was also an excellent sniper and tracker was a bonus that he wanted for the expedition. For himself, he just wanted Ian.

“Good to know,” Tony murmured, trying to stay composed. “Dr. Weir, Colonel Sheppard, do you want me to go investigate how Ford got access to the drugs?”

Weir shook her head quickly. “Thank you, Agent DiNozzo but we have the whole facility under cameras, so we know how he got the drugs and got out. It’s where he’s gone now that we need to know.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Tony nodded his head once. He spared a glance at Sheppard and breathed out slowly. He was not getting in between the colonel and Weir and the conversation they were going to have after the meeting was over.


The meeting broke up not long after that and Tony headed back to his office. The distraction had served him well, and he had the murderer in his sights. He needed to do one thing though before he could table the case solved and that was find the murder weapon.

“Agent DiNozzo!” the call rang down the hallway and Tony looked back to see Major Lorne wave at him and hurry towards him.

“Major Lorne, what can I do for you?” Tony asked as he paused in front of one of the transporters.

“I was hoping for an update on the case?” the major asked.

Both men walked into the small room and Tony tapped the spot for his office. One bright flash later and they were exiting onto his floor. “Sure. We can go over that. In the meantime, call me Tony. All this Agent DiNozzo stuff is getting old.”

“I can totally understand that. Call me Evan. It took me a while to get used to being called Major Lorne too. Anyway, I was wondering if there was anything I can tell the colonel as far as updates go,” Evan asked.

“Yeah, I’m getting close to the end of my investigation. I’ll need to get with Dr. Weir and the colonel for a meeting to see about them authorizing searching a particular person’s rooms,” Tony admitted. “Does the colonel have an admin?”

Even seemed to shrug before he tapped his chest once. “The closest he has to an admin is me.”

Tony reached out and unlocked the outer door to his and requested Atlantis keep his inner office and the lab locked. She sent back a pulse of agreement before the door opened. “That’s a bit fucked up, there. What happens when you are both off the city? Isn’t there someone that everyone can go to, to set up appointments, turn in paperwork and just act as an extra layer between you two and everyone?”

“When the expedition originally headed out here, the military was tiny. Basically one small platoon, and three officers. There was no need for an admin. Especially when Sumner died only days into their time out here. Ford and Sheppard needed to stay in constant contact, and that seems to have settled into place as an institutional fact of life,” Evan explained. “I really didn’t realize that was the case when I came out here, so on the last data burst, I requested an admin. I’m hopeful General O’Neill picks a decent one.”

“Me too. Dragons are useful, but you want to find one that won’t give you a bad reputation,” Tony agreed. “As for the investigation? Yeah, I need to talk to the colonel and Dr. Weir.”

Evan had his own tablet out and was making notes. “I can get you in tomorrow at eight am? Weir doesn’t have an admin either, but her schedule is clear then.”

“If she and the colonel don’t kill each other after today,” Tony said with a sigh.

“Yeah, that wasn’t cool. I wonder if I can get her an admin?” Evan looked at Tony and raised an eyebrow. “What do you think?”

“Do you know if she’s had one before?” Tony asked.

“The closest she’s had to an admin that I know of was Dr. Peter Grodin. He died right before the Wraith siege,” Evan said after several moments staring at the ceiling. “Okay, I’ll add it to the list of things I think she needs.”

“Because I don’t think one person can take care of three of you,” Tony observed. “Does McKay have one?”

“I’m honestly not sure. I mostly deal with Dr.’s Z and Kusanagi. There are a few others who are cool, but mostly they seem to be there to do the drudge work,” Evan said with a shrug. “Do you want me there tomorrow?”

“No, I don’t think so,” Tony admitted. “But I do have something that I know needs to be done. Can you get me the list of all the stolen stuff, the complaints, and the shit that doesn’t go up to the NCO’s or frankly, has been pushed to the side because you guys haven’t had an Agent Afloat? Once this murder investigation is in the bag, I need to get started on everything else.”

“Okay, I can do that. Do you want me to get with Dr. Z to see if the sciences have their own version of the list?” Evan asked.

Tony nodded. “Please. I’ll need to get to work on the minor crimes. Now, we both didn’t mention it, but do you know if there were any rapes on the city while they were out here alone?”

He watched as Evan pinched his lips together before he shook his head. “No. There are none in the reports. And I really hope we can keep that going.”


– – – –

“Thank you for seeing me, Dr. Weir, Colonel Sheppard. I’ve reached the point in my investigation where I need to check for evidence. This means that I need to search someone’s room. Since you two are the authority on Atlantis, I need to clear it with you both,” Tony said as he stared at the two leaders from his spot in front of Weir’s desk.

“So you have a suspect?” Weir asked as she ran a stylus through her fingers.

“I do,” Tony admitted. “I actually started out with five. Four of them have been eliminated by the evidence, but I’ll need to confirm the last one. That means I need to get into their room, go over everything and potentially take samples.”

The stylus stopped its cycle of movement before starting again. “Oh. Well, can you tell us what killed Dr. Keller?”

“It looks like she got bludgeoned to death with a stainless steel coffee mug,” Tony told them, voice level.

From the way the colonel stiffened Tony was sure he was thinking of McKay’s habit of carrying around a giant steel mug and drinking from it frequently. He couldn’t reassure him at all.

Weir seemed to be thinking the same thing if the look she was aiming at the colonel was any indication. At his nod, she took a deep breath and placed the stylus on her desk. “Agent DiNozzo, you have your authorization. Do you have something for the colonel and I to sign?”

Tony pulled the tablet he had taken off the network out of his backpack and thumbed it on. The page he needed was preloaded, and he handed Weir the small machine, ready for her signature. Her hand was steady as she scanned the document and he could see when she got to the spot where it named his final suspect because she relaxed. It took only moments for her to sign off after that and he took it from her to hand to the colonel.

Sheppard was harder to read, and Tony could respect why. The man’s best friend was on his suspect list, and the murder weapon was one that the scientist habitually carried around. If ever there was a more obvious suspect, Tony didn’t know of it. As the colonel got to the relevant passage, he seemed to collapse back into his chair before grabbing the stylus and adding his signature.

“So you need us to go with you?” he asked as he handed the tablet back to Tony.

“No, I should be good. Once I get the evidence, do you want me to make the arrest in public or private?” Tony asked as he verified the signatures, saved the document and returned the tablet to his backpack. He was heading out after the meeting to get the final proof needed.

Weir and Sheppard shared a glance before she nodded at the colonel. Sheppard took a deep breath and made the call. “Public.”

“Okay, then. I better get moving,” Tony told them both. Getting up, he shook both their hands and then walked out. He had evidence to collect.

– – – –

Tony let himself into the room of his suspect. It was reasonably tidy, but not to the point where he would worry about the mental health of the person. No underwear on the floor, the bed seemed to have fresh sheets, and the garbage can was clean.

Swinging his backpack off his back, he quickly grabbed a set of neoprene gloves and pulled them on. While he was doing that, he requested the door be locked under his authority and Atlantis obliged. Patting the wall in thanks, he started with the underwear drawer; always a favorite place to stash things.

In the case of his suspect, they had the obligatory sex toy in between the socks. Lifting it out between thumb and forefinger, Tony stared at it for a moment before putting it back. Yuck. Those things needed to be cleaned after every use.

Moving on, he checked every other drawer in the room, under the bed and then the bathroom. Bingo. One very dented coffee cup. Evidence bag tucked under his arm, Tony pulled his camera up and took all the shots he needed to confirm evidence. He was careful how he framed things, but for the most part, the bathroom looked like every other bathroom he had ever been in. A quick pass with his sketchbook and he was done with the visual evidence.

Once that was done, he tipped the cup into the bag and closed it up. He had some tests to do on it. His search moved to what passed as a closet in the room, and he stared at the bloody uniform stuffed in a bag. He was not expecting that. Tony tilted his head, taking in all the angles before getting more pictures and some sketches.

The bag of uniform went into another bag, and he was done. His gloves were carefully pulled off and added to a final bag, and he shrugged into his backpack and headed out. The whole thing had taken roughly two hours, and he had many more ahead of him in work.

– – – –

“Hey, Tony? You going to come up for air anytime soon?” the sound of Evan’s voice in his ear pulled Tony out of his science haze. Reaching out mentally, he turned the music he had going down. He had found that plugging his stereo into Atlantis let her have control of it like a remote, and he was taking full advantage.

“Sure, Evan. I’m at a spot I can stop,” Tony said as he saved his last set of results. Everything was done, and he was just about ready for to arrest the killer.

“Good. You need to eat, man! You missed lunch and dinner yesterday. Chief said you hit her up for midrats, but those really aren’t a fresh meal. So, breakfast and then you can get back to your mysterious science stuff,” Evan told him cheerfully.

Tony glanced over at the clock on the computer and winced. He had been going for roughly thirty hours and really needed a decent meal. “Okay, I can do that. Will Cooper be upset if I come in her mess in yesterday’s clothes?”

The snort of laughter came through clearly. “No. You won’t even be the first person to do so this week. Come on. I’m outside, I’m hungry, and I want to see what the Chief and her guys have done with the latest fruit shipment we got from P3X-499.”

“Fine. Let me at least brush my teeth and grab my coffee,” Tony said as he started locking everything down.

Five minutes later and he was walking down the hallway to the mess. The smell coming out of the room was delicious, and now that he wasn’t wrapped up in his evidence, Tony realized he was hungry. Evan just laughed at him as he agreed to everything on the breakfast line, but he didn’t care. He just wanted to try it all.

Breakfast was everything he had thought it would be and as he sat sipping the last of his coffee and felt… Satisfied. He was doing good, he had good food and maybe his first friend. Tony looked up to ask Evan a question on the various items they had eaten when he saw his suspect walk in. Looking around, he saw the mess was lightly populated but still very public.

“Pardon me, Evan. I have something I have to do,” Tony murmured as he stood up. Reaching into the pouch on his belt, he grabbed his handcuffs. “Private Yakiu Brent, you are under arrest for the murder of Dr. Jennifer Keller. You have the right to remain silent…”

The rest of the Miranda rights flowed off his tongue without his brain really engaging. He had said the words so many times over the years, they were engraved in his psyche. Brent froze and paled before looking around wildly at everyone in the room. When he realized they were all staring at him, he seemed to slump in on himself and waited, docile for Tony to cuff his hands behind his back.

As he started leading Brent to his office, he shared a significant look with Evan. From the firm nod he got back, he was sure that Sheppard would be waiting for him. Hopefully with someone who could do the work of an MP.

The walk was just as short as before, and as he rounded the corner to his office, he saw the room was open, with the colonel waiting inside. “Colonel? If you could, the inner office has a video camera on a tripod. We need to have that set up at the end of the table, covering everyone at it,” Tony directed as he sat Brent at the table and made sure that the second pair of cuffs attached to the bottom of the table were closed around the chain of the first pair.

“I’m not going to run. There’s nowhere to run too,” Brent muttered, voice sulky and slightly insulted.

“SOP, kid,” Tony told him, voice neutral.

Sheppard came out with the camera, and they got it set up. Tony carefully sat down across from Brent and looked him over. He was sweating lightly and seemed to be more concerned with the colonel pacing behind him that with the NCIS agent in front of him. Not that Tony could blame him. Sheppard was not a happy man right then.

“Okay, let’s get this started,” Tony said and laid out the time, date and classified location name of the base. Once he had that recorded, it was time to get to the reason for the interview. “Why did you kill Dr. Jennifer Keller?”

Brent sat staring at him for several moments before his face crumpled. “I thought she liked me and all she wanted to do was fuck me, use me and then discard me! When I went to ask her if she meant what she had said, she told me I was good for a quick fuck, but I wasn’t worth anything more than that. Well, I showed her. Didn’t I?”

Jesus, Tony thought. What a mess. A crime of passion done by a kid who was no more than twenty years old.

Hours later, when Brent was taken down to the Wraith cage, Tony sat in his office and sipped the last of the coffee he had in his cup. The whole thing was an ugly, ugly mess. Add in the possible espionage, and things really got interesting.

“Are you going to sit here in the dark all night or what?”

“Dr. McKay, lovely to see you,” Tony snipped back, voice dry.

“Well, now that I’m not one of your suspects, I thought I should at least try to get to know you,” McKay announced. “Should I call you ‘Agent’ or just mangle your last name until you let me call you by your first name?”

Snorting softly in laughter, Tony gave in. “Call me Tony. Is it okay if I call you Rodney? Calling anyone Doctor here seems to get a lot of unintentional responses.”

“Yes. Now, you’re missing lunch, and Cooper promised me that there would be cake. Get your ass in gear, Tony.” McKay told him with a wave of his hands.

“Alright, alright!” Tony got up and joined the other man. “What kind of cake?”

McKay rubbed his hands together in apparent glee. “Something in the chocolate family, she said.”

“Excellent. Lead on!”

– – – –

Three weeks later

The ringing of his doorbell pulled Tony away from the testing he was doing on a set of fingerprints. Someone down in the military barracks had a bad case of light-fingers and was taking all sorts of things out of various peoples rooms. Since they were physically over-riding the door locks, that meant that his suspect pool was larger than just those that were ATA positive.

“Hang on a minute!” Tony called as the bell rang again. Opening the door with his mind, he stilled. “Ian! You’re here!”

Ian walked into his office and dropped his duffel to one side before stepping into his personal space. “I am.”

Tony waited for a heartbeat before he threw caution to the wind and leaned forward. Pressing a fleeting kiss against Ian’s lips, he breathed in the scent of his lover. Sandalwood, gunpowder and mint, Ian smelled as good as he remembered.

When arms wrapped around him, Tony relaxed and returned the kiss being pressed on his lips with interested. God, he was glad Ian was there.

 How Not To Be an Asshole


  1. I really enjoyed Tony getting to be professional and competent. The case was also interesting and I appreciate the option for more, following up the spy intrigue!

  2. Lovely Christmas present. Thank you for posting.

  3. What a truly lovely story! Thank you for writing and sharing.

  4. Truly awesome. It’s a lovely Christmas read. Thank you 🙂

  5. OK, I was surprised at the murderer, good job at being sneaky with all the red herrings! *g* I thought it was going to be someone who’d discovered Jennifer’s spy mandate, or even, for a minute, Atlantis herself, to protect Rodney for Sheppard.

    Your giving Tony a heavy dose of the ATA gene was surprising as well, but made a lot of sense. He’s going to need the ‘pull’ with Atlantis to do his job properly. Why do I think that scene where Tony & Sheppard became the ‘people in charge of the city’ is going to figure crucially in future chapters?

    Since Rodney was eyeing him appreciatively & flirting (GREAT turnaround, there!), I’m assuming Rodney & John aren’t an item yet, or was that pass in the nature of a beard? Hmm, I don’t think Rodney would do it that way, if he wanted Tony to pretend to be his boyfriend briefly, I think he respects Tony’s intelligence enough to ask him outright to cover for Rodney & John.

    I was also a bit surprised to find that Tony & Ian were already lovers, you’d had Tony be utterly professional and only professional when he thought of Ian. They DO make a yummy pair! Too bad Ian’s going to have to Aiden-hunt & won’t have time for an extended welcome.

    Thank you for an utterly absorbing story, I’ve read long past my bedtime but I was totally hooked! (Oh, and the image of Tony plugging his TV into a blank wall was terrific. Only on Atlantis!) I’m hoping this is only the first of these delicious stories.

  6. Keller in her … with the… LOL

    Horrid wench. And Ian… SWOON! Right, nuff chatter, I’m off to indulge further in your brilliance!

  7. Minor life-on-Atlantis moments for “color”, Tony getting a footing among them and with the city herself, and a realistically serious murder case, too, all well-presented.
    Boy, more than usually glad to see *this* Keller gone, even if it did involve someone else ruining their life completely.
    Hearty kudos.

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